Jan Scherpenberg, CPA, might not work with the liveliest – or even the alive-est – crowd, but that hasn’t stopped her from living her life to the fullest or proving it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.
The administrative manager for Chambers & Grubbs Funeral Home in Northern Kentucky was a stay-at-home mom for 14 years before she began working with a consulting firm in Cincinnati where her supervisor approached her about pursuing the CPA.
“I had just had a conversation with my husband – I’m kind of bored, maybe I need a challenge,” Scherpenberg said. “I had sat for the CPA exam right out of college and passed one part, but I said ‘no, I don’t think this is what I want to do.’”
Yet, 20 years later, she and her husband, Bob, and their four children basically “put their lives on hold” for a year as she attended a review course to study for the exam. All that studying paid off, because she passed three out of the four sections on her first try and returned in the spring to pass the final section.
“Thankfully I sat for that exam one time because I was grandfathered in, so I did not have to go back and get those 150 hours of additional accounting classes,” she said.
It’s impressive to pass the CPA exam no matter what, but Scherpenberg’s accomplishment was actually the third time those three letters were added to someone’s name in her family.
“Both of my brothers are also CPAs and we all graduated from Miami University,” she said. “My oldest brother, Brian Michel, was the vice president of finance for Luxottica – he is now retired – and my younger brother, Doug Michel, is a partner with Clark Schaefer Hackett in Cincinnati.”
In addition to her brothers, Scherpenberg’s nephew works at EY and her niece is graduating this May with a position at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
“My parents were not college graduates, but they were determined to send us to college,” Scherpenberg said. “They just wanted us to be educated. They instilled in us that education and family are important, and that’s what I’m trying to instill in my family.”
True enough, when asked about the coolest place she’s ever been, Scherpenberg listed the places she’s traveled to watch her children compete in collegiate athletics.
She said her parents also worked very hard, and she and her brothers graduated from Miami University without any college debt. She said, “I didn’t realize what a big deal that was until my kids were looking at colleges.”
“We’re very family-oriented. My dad always put family first and that’s kind of where it all started,” she said. “He still meets up with his grandkids for dinner.”
And taking a cue from her father, Scherpenberg’s new favorite pastime is spending time with her own grandkids.
Scherpenberg and her brothers grew up taking trips to Lake Cumberland with her parents, and now she and her brothers all take their children and grandchildren there.
“My life is not that exciting; I only work three days a week and I’m not in public accounting, but you know – I work hard, and my mom would be so proud of me,” she said. “And, she’s probably up there thinking, ‘Wow, I have three CPA children and my grandkids.’ So, you know what? That’s awesome. I’m proud of my profession. Sometimes I don’t think about what an accomplishment it is to be a CPA, but I still have the degree and the certifications. I’m proud of being a CPA. And I know she would be proud, too.”
PHOTO: Jan Scherpenberg, CPA, top, second from right, poses with her family on a recent vacation.