Note: The following is part of the MACPA’s “Share Your Story” series that showcases members. Learn more about the series and why we are doing it here.
By Tim Samuel, CPA
I’m a CPA and a CFO, and I Create Future Opportunities for Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, Md.
My road to being a CPA could have ended many times. In high school, I took an accounting course that, because of a teacher, I wanted to drop within the first few days. My guidance counselor pushed me to stick with it, and I ended up getting an A and actually enjoying the class and the teacher. I went to college to pursue accounting because I was good at it and knew I could get a job that would leave me able to provide for my family.
Once again, I wanted to quit. About halfway through college, my accounting professor made some culturally insensitive comments toward me, and that really shook me. I was a mess, but I was too far along in my college career to change majors and too cheap to take more classes. Also, I knew accounting would guarantee me a job, so I stuck with it. I got to know my professor and ending up getting an A in that class. I fully believe this helped me land my first job, which is where I passed the CPA exam.
As I started my career, a senior manager asked me how I felt as a minority working for them. At that point, I was the only person of color working in that department. What could I say other than, “It’s great!” I knew I was lying, but I didn’t know what else to say. As the years passed, I realized it wasn’t the right fit for me. To be honest, I wasn’t producing the way the big public accounting firm needed. I wasn’t getting any audit hours either, and I thought about giving up on my goal of becoming a CPA.
But one day as I was talking to a close friend, he said something that changed my course:
“Don’t let a man close a door that God has opened up for you.”
Rather than giving up on the CPA, I decided to go to another regional firm to obtain hours I needed to get my CPA license. That turned out to be the best decision I could have made. The firm was the right fit, I was learning and adding value, and I received enough hours to be a CPA. After receiving the CPA, I felt like I had a swag. I didn’t give up on this challenge and now I could change the world!
Fast-forward a bit: My wife and I were in India to attend a cousin’s wedding. While there, we visited the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal was commissioned by an Mughal emperor to be a tombstone for his wife. I couldn’t believe the type of legacy this family left to the world.
I wanted to leave a legacy, too. I wanted to change the world. I knew I could. I’m a CPA, after all!
Not too long after I returned, I went to visit a friend. Together, we visited a church that had been founded by a 25-year-old who desired to have a diverse church. Fifty-two different represented nations called this church home, and the church was looking for a CPA. I took the position. I had to sell my house, uproot my family and relocate to Columbia for the job. I knew then that my long journey as a CPA was meant for me to serve this great community.
I am someone who uses numbers combined with business knowledge to change lives by the grace of God. Now I affectionately call Bridgeway Community Church my Taj Mahal.