As I began my undergraduate college experience, I faced an array of symptoms that seemed daunting and insurmountable. I struggled with post-concussion syndrome and various other symptoms, such as sensitivity to light and sound, migraine headaches, difficulty concentrating, convergence issues in my eyes, loss of hearing, disorder of my jaw muscles, and cervical spondylosis. While facing these physical challenges, there were many times when I doubted my ability to thrive both academically and in the fast-paced accounting and finance world. Overcome with uncertainty, I began to question if accounting was even the right fit for me.  

It wasn’t until my first cost accounting course that this uncertainty vanished. The way cost accounting immediately clicked for me was a feeling I hadn’t experienced since my injury. Recognizing my passion, I established a mentor relationship with my professor, and that gave me a space where I could speak about my passion to pursue a career in cost accounting and also about my reservations because of my injury. It was at this moment that I was introduced to the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant), the designation my professor holds. A strong advocate of mental health, my professor helped me see that anything is possible to overcome if one is driven by passion and knows when to ask for help.  

From that day forward, earning the CMA became a goal for me to strive toward. I joined IMA® and received the CMA Scholarship my junior year. I then planned to remain in school for a fifth year to obtain my MBA and simultaneously take both parts of the CMA. I knew that if I could obtain my CMA, I could prove to myself I was capable of anything and that my injury didn’t define me.  

With much hard work and determination, I achieved my goals and more. I was named valedictorian of my graduating college class and received my MBA in accounting. After working closely with my professor to fashion my MBA experience around preparing for the CMA exam—the program was traditionally catered toward those pursuing the CPA (Certified Public Accountant)—I was able to study for and pass both parts of the CMA exam on my first attempt. Now I just need to fulfill the professional experience requirement for the certification.  

Although I still have several symptoms, I believe my injury has taught me to be flexible, to not be afraid to rely on others, and to be willing to verbalize my goals and the tools and support I need to achieve them. Change is the one constant in the business world, and I believe the adversity I have faced coupled with the skills and knowledge I have obtained by way of the CMA will be instrumental in my future success.  

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