Women of Strength-Faith & Persistence
In our February's edition of Women of Strength, we are featuring Hannah. An incredible woman with an incredible journey now living and embracing an extraordinary life. A life of challenges, loss, faith, persistence, and most importantly...STRENGTH. Whenever you feel like giving up, just think of Hannah and everything she's endured to move forward. This is her story <3 *******************************************************************
At 7AM, June 1, 2011, I received a phone call from the US Marines. My husband, age 22, had been injured in combat. He was on a foot patrol in Kajaki, Afghanistan when Taliban detonated an IED ten feet to his right. Three tourniquets. Eight hospitals. Ten surgeries. Eighteen months of physical, vestibular, and occupational therapy. Just to get our life back to semi-normal. At the same time, I was going through my MBA program at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California. If you missed more than two classes, or had below a B average, you were dismissed from the program.
Hannah & her husband.
Fast forward to January 2015.
I've been at my dream job at consulting and accounting firm AKT LLP for two years. I'm currently studying to earn my CPA license. The CPA exams are arguably some of the most difficult for a professional to pass, with approximately 15 hours of testing and each with a 40-50% pass rate. I work with the tax group, so my "busy season" is just starting.My husband just injured himself from lingering issues related to his combat wounds. He needs surgery. Ten days later, we are notified by the Portland Police Department that my father-in-law- young, healthy, and someone I look up to- has passed away. Then I receive notice that I've failed a CPA exam. Again. I'm used to life being fast paced at this point, but when can I put life on hold? Why can't I just quit and take the easy route?
-What has been your biggest source of strength through your series of hardships? Two very important things get my through hardships: 1. I was raised as the daughter of a counselor. From childhood, my voice had importance and I could speak my mind in a safe environment. My parents taught me the value of expressing myself and not being afraid to feel emotions. What gets me through hardships is my lack of fear for my loved ones to see who I really am. If I am hurting, and am asked how I am doing, I don't pretend I'm "OK". I've found that people have very kind hearts and want to help carry others through their hardships. 2. My biggest hero in life was my grandfather. He had a personal motto: "Everything is fixable." Whenever I'm stressed, I tell myself this. So what if the car is broken? It can get fixed. Who cares if you did bad on a work or school project? There's always next time. There are very few things in this world that are not fixable, and I wish that no one is experiencing these on a regular basis.
-How do you find the motivation to continue with your schooling and dreams and not put it on the back burner? I seek to recognize all the great things around me. One day, I ran out of checks and had to reorder. I wondered why I needed checks in the first place-wasn't it 2015? As I flipped through pages of samples, one option stood out: "REMEMBER WHAT'S IMPORTANT." What a silly thing to stamp on the background of a checkbook. But how incredibly accurate and applicable to all aspects of my life! What was important to me? Family. Physical health. Faith. My education. Friends. When I find myself stuck in a difficult place or with too much to do, I ask myself, "What is important?" This helps me prioritize and stay focused on my education and dreams.
-What would you tell other women pursuing a passion when life gets hairy? Don't give up. You have to have faith that it will be worth it. It's amazing what an optimistic mind can do for personal drive. If you can't be your own cheerleader, don't be afraid to reach out to someone to see if they're up for the job. I confide in different cheerleaders for different parts of my life. When it comes to my personal life, my husband and family are my cheerleaders. For work, it's my managers. For my exams, it's my peers that are going through the same, painful process.
-What pushed you to *start* on your path, while having every reason to wait or do something else? When I graduated college, my husband had about two years left in the service before we could move home. That was the perfect amount of time to complete my MBA. By this time, I knew I wanted to be a public accountant. When I was hired at a CPA firm, the CPA exams seemed like the next natural step. I don't know why I started, but I knew I wanted to keep moving! I had faith that I was on the right path and had a vision of where I wanted to end up.
- Despite the ups and downs, what has been your favorite and most fulfilling aspect of not giving up and continuing to persevere? When my husband's father passed away, a mentor of mine took me to coffee to ask how we were doing. He knew about all of our past hardships and knew this was going to be another difficult battle for us. His words have never left me:
"God's preparing you for something great. I can't wait to see what it is!" These words have carried me through this last terrible year and move me forward. I hope that my story may one day reach someone that felt just as much like quitting as I have, and that it encourages them to fight for just a little bit longer. Do you know a woman of strength? Send us her story, and she could be featured in our monthly publication. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about that strong woman in your life.