My CPA Story: My Greatest Failure and My Sweetest Success

Certified Public Accountant – CPA; these three letters seemed out of reach for a good part of my young adult life, eluding me with every flunked quiz and doozy problems. But on June 17, 2019, I earned the right to call myself a CPA. It wasn’t easy getting there, but it was well worth the hard work and sacrifices. Looking back at all the cups of coffee and sleepless nights, I like to think of this title as a testament to every CPA’s resilience and dedication.

It started with the question, “What do I want to become?” Walking towards the doors of our college enrollment hall, I had a couple of programs in mind but I really had no firm decision as to what course to take. I was indecisive but something in me pushed me to check the BS Accountancy program on the enrollment list. Fast forward to my first day in college, I was high-strung and excited at the same time. The debits and credits and all the rudiments of accounting were all new to me. I was like a sponge absorbing every bit of detail splashed at me.

However, as years passed by, accounting got more and more strenuous because its complex side sometimes became unfathomable. What made my college years seem to be more unbearable was losing my number one supporter – my dad. It was a tough year for us because he was our breadwinner. But more to losing financial support when he passed away was losing someone who believed in me so much. From that moment, I lost focus and I forgot my goal of becoming a CPA. I skipped classes, didn’t do my home works, and barely listened to lectures. As I came to my last year in college, my fervent desire for the title was suddenly ignited once again.

I may have lost my path in the process but I got back on my feet. I rose from the all the challenges life threw at me at a young age. And there I was in 2018, marching on the stage to get my diploma with a medal for graduating as a Cum Laude. Taking up Accountancy sounds like roller coaster of emotions and a potpourri of experiences but I can say that it was the best five years of my life.

My graduation hype did not last long as I immediately enrolled in a review school in Manila to prepare for the October 2018 board exams. I was very excited of this new environment. A new place, new people, new learning – a new chapter.

Preparing for the board exams was a lot harder than I thought because I need to have not only a sound mind, but also a sound physical, emotional, spiritual and social state. It also took ceaseless patience and dedication. Self-discipline was the key. I made weekly schedules and deadlines of the topics I should finish. I made sure that I learned and mastered a topic each day. I tried to consult with acquaintances, friends and family with topics I had difficulty with and I also joined group studies every night. I enjoyed much of my time reviewing because aside from an environment which was very conducive to learning, our reviewers were notable, well-versed and very inspirational. They were the epitome of people who worked their way to the pinnacle of success yet have their feet on the ground. They were my inspiration for my upcoming board exams.

Aside from learning more about accounting, I also learned to live independently. I had no one to wash and iron my clothes, prepare my meals, get medicine when I get sick, pick items at the grocery, so I did it all by myself. My review days not only enhanced my knowledge and skills but it also made me grow as a person. From a reliant child to a responsible adult.

Moving forward to the night before the first day of the exam, I wasn’t feeling anxious, nervous nor scared. I was pretty calm. I prepared my things and went to sleep early. I woke up at 3 AM the next day with a gravely bad stomach pain and a nauseous feeling. It was the worst stomach pain I have ever experienced. I had to be at the exam site at 6:45 AM but at 6:30 AM, I was still at home shrieking in pain. I was given a strong dosage of pain reliever which alleviated the pain for a few hours just so I could finish the exam. The second day of the exam passed, and on the third day, I had the same stomach pain again. I just prayed to get through the day and I did. The moment I got out of the exam room on the last day, I knew right then and there that I wouldn’t make it to the list of passers.

While waiting for the exam results, despite of the gut feeling I had, I still kept a tiny bit of hope that I would pass and become a CPA. Ten agonizing days had passed and the results finally came out. I haven’t looked at the list yet but a phone call came in, I answered it and the person on the other line said, “Bawi nalang tayo sa susunod na exam.” I didn’t know what to feel that time. I already had that gut feeling that I wouldn’t make it but I didn’t expect it to hurt that bad.

I was a conditional examinee. I was so ashamed of myself. I was an achiever back in school but when it came to my final test, I failed miserably. I had all the time in the world to grieve and to breakdown but I chose not to. With all the doubts I had, there was one thing I was sure of – I wanted to become a CPA. My family wanted me to put on hold my dream so I could already find a job and provide for them because we did not have much resources to support our daily needs, more so for another review.  All my life I have been very obedient but this was the only time I chose to resist what they wanted. I insisted on what I wanted. I enrolled in the same review school again with the little money that I had left. I gambled this time. I wasn’t sure what would happen to me but I knew what I wanted – I wanted that title. I tried looking for part time jobs to support me. I went to more than ten interviews but none of them ever called me back. I was so devastated and I didn’t know what to do. I was living in Manila where the cost of living is really high, I had no money, I couldn’t get a job, I had to focus on my review, I was far from my family and I couldn’t get any financial help from them. As I was about to give it all up, a friend lent me money, (without me asking) enough to get me through five months until the May 2019 board exams.

I made sure that I did things right this time. I wouldn’t waste the opportunity given to me. I worked ten times harder than I did in my first review and blocked out anything that could possibly distract me. I was more prepared this time. I took the exam one more time with great confidence.

The night of the results, my hands shakily opened the website for the list of passers. I slowly scrolled… and scrolled… and scrolled… and there it was, “REYES, MA. KRISTIN GATCHALIAN.” I burst into tears whispering a prayer of thanks. I finally made it. I’m finally a CPA.

Maybe I didn’t study hard on my first try; maybe it was the bad stomach ache that I had during the exam that’s why I failed; getting a low self-esteem every time I get rejected from a job interview was the worst feeling; an unexpected help from an unexpected person. These were all part of the plan. These were all meant to be part of my journey for me to come out strong. These were all necessary for me to become the CPA that I am meant to be at the perfect time and the perfect place.

There is no shortcut in becoming a CPA. It’s going to be a long journey and this journey requires resilience. There will be times that you’ll stumble on your feet but always, always get up. The advice that I have held onto from my review days until now is this:

“Pag nadapa ka bumangon ka agad. Wag mong itigil ang buhay mo dahil nagkamali ka. Hindi na mahalaga kung itutuloy mo pa ang sinimulan mo o tatahak ka na ng ibang landas, basta bumangon ka agad. Huwag kang magsayang ng oras. Umusad ka lang. Umusad ka lagi. Mapupunta at mapupunta ka kung saan ka nararapat basta bumangon ka lagi.”

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About the Author

Ma Kristin Reyes
Ma Kristin Reyes
Tin passed the CPA Licensure Examination in May 2019. She graduated Cum Laude from Saint Louis University. She is currently an Audit associate at KPMG in the Philippines.