Certified: An intimidating course load

Written on Feb 22, 2018

Certified follows a group of aspiring CPAs while they prepare for and take the various sections of the CPA exam. We started following our candidates in May 2016, and this is part one of Emily Pennington’s story. Read more here.

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

Emily Pennington knows what she wants for her career and isn’t afraid to work hard for it. Now, her dedicated work ethic is going to be tested in an entirely new way.

In her goal to become a tax lawyer, Emily will work to complete as many CPA exam sections as she’s able before she attends the University of Cincinnati College of Law this fall. As a student she describes herself as a perfectionist, but admits she learned to relax a bit in college to avoid burnout.

emily-pennington“I’ve always liked numbers and I thought accounting suited me really well,” she said. “And for years prior I wanted to be a lawyer. But I decided that criminal law, while glorified on TV, is a small part of what lawyers do. So, I thought I would combine what I love about accounting with law.”

Pennington grew up in a Cincinnati suburb and will graduate from Xavier University in May with her undergraduate accounting degree. She finished her coursework early but knew she wanted to graduate with her class, so she entered into a one-year full-time day MBA program. Over the summer she will finish up her MBA, in addition to studying and taking CPA exam sections.

But Pennington isn’t worried about the intimidating course load. What she is concerned about is the accommodations she’ll receive from the CPA exam testing site. Pennington has been blind her entire life, and has learned to be wary of last-minute obstacles in her path; she doesn’t want something to prevent her from doing her best on each section.

“I’m just nervous there’s going to be some snafu with accommodations, which is sad, but that’s more nerve-wracking than the test part,” Pennington said. “I worried about that with the GMAT (graduate management admission test), I worried about that with the LSAT (law school admissions test) – that’s the thing I always worry about more.”

When taking the LSAT she said the administrators were confused over what she could do herself versus needing a scribe’s assistance. In the end it was all resolved, but Pennington said it “definitely raised my blood pressure.”

Accessibility is an important part of her life, and factored into her choice to study accounting.

“I always have to take into account, when I’m looking for work or a class, the ways that are going to be most accessible,” she said. “What’s going to take the least amount of effort to figure things out on top of doing the normal learning? I thought the process of accounting wouldn’t have as much accessibility issues as finance, but then I got into it and I loved it. I love how much sense it makes. I think managerial accounting and tax is my favorite. I really enjoy it.”

Next time: Tackling accommodations

Sponsored by MDS CPA Review and Yaeger CPA Review.

Leave a comment