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Becoming a CPA at 17: What it Takes to Succeed

Becoming a CPA and entering the accounting field is the ultimate goal for many. But it’s not often that the business world welcomes a professional accountant who’s younger than most high school students. The exception to the rule? Belicia Cespedes, a teenager who earned her credential before she was even eligible to vote.

Cespedes graduated high school at the age of 13 and started showing interest in accounting after taking a Quickbooks course. She enrolled in Thomas Edison State College where, according to her mother, she always earned the highest scores in her class.

As she completed her bachelor’s in accounting, Cespedes worked a part-time job with an accountant who previously worked with her father. This opportunity opened new doors for Cespedes and also fulfilled her job experience requirement to take the CPA exam.

Discipline and determination helped Cespedes achieve her goal of passing the CPA exam. Even though she says that studying was hard, her experience as a home-schooled student helped her concentrate and organize strategies to cover all the sections.

“I saw math as a concrete thing, and I like that—you know when the answer is wrong or right,” she said.

Even though Cespedes passed the exam and became a CPA, she still faced challenges that made it hard at times. She failed two parts of the exam on her first try but went right back to studying—right after her mom treated her to dinner and a movie.

Now that she has earned her license, Cespedes works at a local CPA firm where she focuses on preparing tax returns and is taking every advantage of the learning opportunity. What’s next? She’s considering law school and providing financial advice in her community.

The article was sourced from the Journal of Accountancy.              

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