Breaking Barriers: Daniel’s Journey from First-Generation College Grad to Aspiring CPA

In a family where attending college was unprecedented, Daniel’s journey from high school graduate to aspiring CPA is inspiring. His story shows the importance of guidance, perseverance, and the power of education.

Early Influences

Family traditions and expectations often play a significant role in the decision to attend college. For Daniel, however, the journey was not straightforward. His parents had to leave school after only a few years of elementary education to begin working. Later, they emigrated from Mexico to the United States, seeking better opportunities. It was Daniel’s cousin, a Texas A&M-Commerce graduate, whose encouragement sparked the idea of pursuing higher education. As Daniel neared the end of his senior year of high school, she reached out and asked a pivotal question: “Have you thought about attending college?” His answer was, “Not really.”

This conversation planted a seed. A subsequent meeting with his cousin just before graduation helped him realize the importance of having a concrete plan. Unsure of which field to choose and knowing he didn’t enjoy science, Daniel gravitated towards accounting due to his aptitude for math. His decision was solidified after excelling in an introductory accounting course at Eastfield Community College.

Overcoming Challenges

As a first-generation student, the challenges were daunting. Financial concerns were paramount. Without an understanding of grants and scholarships, Daniel initially considered loans but wanted to avoid debt. His cousin’s guidance was invaluable as she helped him explore financial aid options specific to institutions he was interested in, like Southern Methodist University (SMU).

Choosing SMU was driven by its proximity to his parents and a sense of belonging. In Daniel’s words, “Something just drew me to the school.” With his cousin’s help, Daniel connected with Gordon, an advisor who clarified the necessary steps to transfer. He received a 50% scholarship, alleviating some of the financial burden. Despite his father’s limited understanding of the process, he showed his support and encouragement by co-signing a loan to cover the balance.

Daniel graduated from SMU with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. He decided to continue his education and pursue an MBA with an emphasis in accounting at Texas Women’s University. At this point, his financial literacy had kicked in, guiding him to choose the school because it was near his home in Dallas, and the program was one-third the cost of his alma mater.

Mentorship and Motivation

Throughout his academic journey, one professor stood out for Daniel: Barry Bryan. Unlike many affluent SMU students, Daniel came from a very modest background. Professor Bryan recognized this and provided academic support, life advice, and motivation. His acknowledgment of Daniel’s hard work and unique challenges instilled a sense of pride and gratitude, reinforcing his educational pursuits.

Career and Personal Life

Dedication and growth have marked the journey from a college graduate to a respected professional at JLK Rosenberger. Over his seven years with the firm, Daniel has climbed the professional ladder and now guides others, passing on the knowledge and insights he gained from his mentors. He says his proudest achievement is the longevity and progress in his career, which he never imagined when he first started.

In addition to his professional achievements, Daniel finds fulfillment in personal hobbies outside of work. “I’m really into cycling,” he shares. “I enjoy riding my bike on nearby trails. I also enjoy watching and attending sporting events, spending time with close friends and family, and traveling to Mexico.”

The CPA Pursuit

Obtaining a CPA license is a significant milestone, and for Daniel, it’s been a challenging goal. He underestimated the difficulty of the exams, passing the audit section on the first try but struggling with others. Work demands and expired exam sections led to a temporary halt in his efforts. This year, however, he recommitted himself, recognizing that passing the CPA exams is crucial for his career advancement. Support from a firm-provided coaching program has provided the structure and camaraderie needed to stay focused and motivated.

Balancing a demanding job with CPA exam preparation requires sacrifices. Adjusting his schedule to start work early and dedicating evenings to study has been essential. His commitment extends to prioritizing or postponing social activities and relying on his wife’s understanding and support.

Aspirations, Reflections and Advice

Looking ahead, Daniel envisions himself as a partner in the firm, climbing the steps needed to reach that goal. Reflecting on his path, he wishes he had taken higher education more seriously in high school to access more scholarships and grants.

One of the most rewarding aspects of his career has been the knowledge he has gained in the industry. “The networking opportunities are endless,” Daniel says. “Receiving feedback from clients that are satisfied with our work and service is always rewarding. It lets me know I’m doing a good job and representing JLK Rosenberger well.”

Daniel’s parents’ initial lack of understanding of his educational pursuits has transformed into pride as they witness the benefits of his degree. Though they didn’t express it directly, hearing from others about their pride has been a meaningful affirmation.

To those following in his footsteps, he shares, “Don’t fear failure and don’t hesitate to ask questions. The journey will have its challenges, but learning from setbacks and seeking help are crucial steps towards success.”

Daniel’s determination and clear vision demonstrate the transformative power of education. From a hesitant high school graduate to an aspiring CPA, his story is a testament to breaking barriers and achieving dreams through hard work and perseverance.

We look forward to watching Daniel accomplish his goals.