Contributors to the Washington CPA Foundation make a difference in the lives of future CPAs. Read stories of people who were able to pursue their dream of becoming a CPA because of the Foundation's scholarship program.

Never Lose Hope On Your Journey

by Jocelyn Nystrom | Jan 13, 2017

Minae’s journey to CPA licensure is one that has strayed from the traditional student path. It’s a journey that has tested her, yet one that has become a blessing in disguise.

Minae experienced financial hardship in 2006, while she was a sophomore in accounting at Western Washington University. She was forced to leave her education behind to work 12-hour days at a restaurant to make ends meet. Minae grew up in an affluent family that afforded her the opportunity to travel the world, so when the financial crisis hit her and her family, it was overwhelming and unexpected. After several years of tireless days and nights, her dedication paid off and she was able to resume her education in 2009, this time at Washington State University (WSU).

“I wanted to inspire my younger brother and sister to persevere during difficult times and follow through with long-term goals despite challenges,” Minae acknowledged. “I used to be jealous or frustrated about what I did not have. I learned to be thankful and made sure to show that to people around me. I began to look forward to the future. I am the one who is in control of my life.”

While continuing her education she looked for exciting opportunities related to accounting and gave back by working with Beta Alpha Psi, tutoring students, helping in the children’s center, and assisting international students file their taxes. She worked at the WSU Access Center providing help to students with disabilities and as an AICPA ambassador promoting the accounting program.

Minae admitted, “When I first went back to school, I had no idea how to network or what to do. I became a part of Beta Alpha Psi after a professor encouraged me to apply. WSU hosted a firm event that allowed speakers to share opportunities. It was there that I heard about the WSCPA scholarship.” She received one of 46 Washington CPA Foundation scholarships for the 2016 academic year.

While at WSU, she met encouraging professors along the way who reassured her that she would be successful as a CPA. They taught her that accounting is so much more than just basic math. “If you are simply good at math, you can be an engineer or perhaps, a math teacher. Being a CPA requires more than that. You need to be social. You will meet so many different types of people, constantly interacting with professionals in the field,” she asserted.

Minae attended networking events and applied for internships, ultimately landing an internship with Deloitte. Before her internship, she heard about an opportunity through Deloitte that would allow her to give back on a national level during Alternative Spring Break with Teach for America, an annual company-wide celebration that invites employees from around the world to volunteer in the community. Minae and Deloitte staff traveled to a school in Memphis, Tennessee, where they assisted with a food drive, built a community garden and painted the school grounds while connecting with middle and high schoolers in the community.

“It was an eye-opening experience to give back to an underprivileged community in need,” she said.

Minae is currently earning her Master of Science in Taxation degree at Gonzaga University, a one-year program that she will finish May 2017. She is also studying for her CPA exam and will be working as a full-time Tax Associate at Deloitte starting October 2017. She aspires to learn more about global employer services through her experience at Deloitte and would like to give back to her parents who have always believed in her and never lost hope in her journey.

Are you a Washington accounting student? Could you use a $5,000 scholarship for the 2017-18 school year? Apply for one! The Washington CPA Foundation is still accepting applications, but the deadline is February 14. Start your application today!

Jocelyn-Nystrom-HeadshotJocelyn Nystrom is the WSCPA Advocacy and Foundation Coordinator. You can reach her at


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