The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has announced that Paul Wright, a student at Western Washington University, was awarded Beta Alpha Psi's Medal of Inspiration Award at the Beta Alpha Psi Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.
The award, sponsored by the AICPA, is bestowed upon a student who has experienced extreme hardships in his or her life, and who has demonstrated an unusually high level of success despite that adversity. The award includes a $5,000 cash stipend.
Wright's story is one of perseverance and hope. He was born with arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder that includes stiff joints and missing muscle. Wright faced an uphill battle from a young age and endured multiple surgeries before he turned sixteen. Simple task such as learning to walk, tying his shoes, and getting dressed were monumental milestones for Wright.
"A key lesson I learned while growing up is that true strength comes from the heart. It comes from persevering through pain and adversity. Many view disabled people with a feeling of sorrow and pity. As I see it, my accomplishments mean much more to me," said Wright. "I know that I work harder for everything, and that makes me feel even prouder of my accomplishments. Through these challenges, I have learned courage, perseverance, and how to live a life that is inspiring to others."
As he grew older, Wright began to strategically prepare for situations, such as how to carry books and open a door at the same time, which make his life easier. He graduated high school while doing the Running Start Program, which allowed him to take classes at a community college. On September 19, 2010, Wright did something he worked his entire life to do - attend college while living on his own.
While at college, Wright declared an accounting major and joined Beta Alpha Psi. He worked with the University's disability resource center and his local BAP chapter so organizational meetings could be streamed to students who could not physically attend. He even found time to participate in the opera production Pirates of Penzance.
"Paul Wright has had to work extremely hard his entire life to overcome the challenges caused by his disability," said Jeannie Patton, AICPA's vice president of academic and career awareness. "His achievements are both a testament to his strength and an inspiration to anyone who hears his story. I cannot think of a more fitting recipient for this year's Beta Alpha Psi Medal of Inspiration Award."
Wright joined Beta Alpha Psi in April 2012 and will graduate in the spring of 2014. He currently has a 3.2 GPA and continues to be active in Beta Alpha Psi, Accounting Society, and Western Washington University's Residence Life.
Source: August 3, 2012, AICPA Press Release