Daniel Meek from Mustang, Oklahoma is a husband, father of 2 teenage daughters, an investment advisor, and CPA Exam candidate. He enjoys spending time with his family, improving himself and his career, and learning new things. But something that is very unique to Daniel’s life and situation is that he was diagnosed with Usher syndrome type 3 four years ago. This means that he will eventually become both deaf and blind.
Last month, The Oklahoman, a news publication in Daniel’s home state, published an article about him furthering his financial career despite the odds. As a Roger CPA Review student, Daniel was more than happy to share his CPA endeavors as well as the trials and tribulations he faces in his unique situation. In our interview, we hope his journey provides everyone, whether CPA Exam candidate or not, with the same inspiration and motivation he’s given us to pursue your dreams and to never give up despite adverse circumstances.
The article in The Oklahoman states that when you were diagnosed with Usher syndrome type 3 four years ago, you knew you needed to act. What was it that propelled you to be so assertive and positive in your decision to make changes so quickly?
I knew I was going blind at an early age; but because the blindness happened very slowly and gradually, it didn’t frighten me very much and I was able to deal with it as time went on; plus I still had my hearing. But as I began to grow deaf and it as was occurring more quickly, this incident really scared me. Fear made me realize that I had to stand up and beat this thing instead of just lay down and give up.
I have always been goal oriented and driven. I do best when I am focused on something positive in my life. I knew staying focused on all the potential negative implications of Usher Syndrome 3 would lead nowhere, so I just “dug deep” and forced myself to move forward.
In moving forward, I realized I had to make changes in my life, such as how I did things, and develop a positive attitude toward my deaf-blindness. I believe what drove me to seek change, find help, and move forward is the innate instinct of surviving. Ironically, it took the complete loss of my vision to really gain a vision for the rest of my life.
Who or what has been the most helpful to you in overcoming these challenges?
Without a doubt, I could not have done any of this without the unwavering support and love of my family. My wife is my greatest advocate, supporter, and friend; and doesn’t allow me to make excuses. My daughters are amazing in their acceptance and support of my deaf-blindness as well. Having this love and support makes every kind of difference. And of course, the training and tools I have received through Visual Services has been instrumental.
Another thing that has helped is having a sense of humor. As I got older, I realized that although life deals you a bad hand, you have to make the best of it. Laughing is a great way to do that. One time I thought my wife said “The kids are eating grass” when she actually said something about soccer practice. We both had a good time with that.
How has technology and online course options enabled you? What’s the impact been on your life now versus 20 years ago when you were diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa?
Digital textbooks and online courses have made significant changes to accessibility for those with deaf-blindness. Digital textbooks or PDF’s are easily converted to text-to-speech or braille, making them extremely convenient, versus twenty years ago. In the old days, I had to find a way to get to a bookstore, get the book, and enlist the aid of a hired or volunteer reader. Although the National Library Service for the Blind often had books on tape, they were usually ten years older than the latest edition, so the information would be outdated. However, things are so much easier now.
Online courses also take transportation and communication out of play which not only saves you time and money on transit costs, but also makes it easier to communicate with other students via message boards. With everything online, you can interact and be the same as everyone else.
What made you choose Roger CPA Review?
I specifically chose the Roger CPA Review course after reviewing several other course. I found Roger’s teaching style entertaining and easy to understand, which is highly important when looking at approximately 400 hours of studying ahead. The course was laid out very easily, so I followed everything to a T. I watched his lectures, read the book, did practice Multiple Choice Questions, and used the flashcard app. Roger’s memory aids were also extremely helpful on every exam, but especially helpful on the Auditing section.
By following Roger’s study suggestions, I have passed 3 out of the 4 sections so far on the first attempt.
In addition, the Roger CPA Review team went above and beyond all expectations to make the course fully accessible for me. Within a day’s worth of time, the team made sure I had everything I needed, including sending me PDF versions of the textbooks. It was phenomenal.
What was the biggest challenge in preparing / passing the CPA Exam so far?
Definitely time. In addition to being a dad, husband, CPA Exam candidate, and working professional, I also have to dedicate time to helping myself get through my condition. I applied for a guide dog and have been at a guide dog school away from my family for the past 3 weeks in order to train myself and Finley (the dog pictured in my photo) on how to interact with one another. I can’t wait to bring him home!
Another challenging aspect has been preparing for the Task-Based Simulations since it requires someone to read me the question and also take down my answer. For the first exam, which was FAR, I had my wife help me with a couple of the TBSs. We realized we’d be divorced if we kept that up.
So now I have a designated reader they bring in for that part of the exam.
What do you hope to achieve as a CPA?
People have peace of mind when you’re a CPA. I enjoy the tax and research side of accounting. That gives people a lot of stress and I think trying to help out in that area by being an official CPA who can dot I’s and cross t’s gives people lots of reassurance. By being a CPA, I know I can continue to do the type of work I enjoy while instilling a sense of trust and rapport between myself and my clients.
What’s the message you hope your story sends to others – both with and without a disability like yours?
Regardless of age and circumstance, with the right attitude, knowledge, and tools, we can overcome any obstacle. Never quit! Never give up. Stay positive and set higher and higher goals. When you’re brought up in a world of vision and hearing where these senses are the norm for everyone, I was completely uncomfortable with myself and wanted to change how others were perceiving me and how I perceived myself. For those of you suffering from a disability, you just can’t let it get you down. Instead of having it be an obstacle for you, make it a source of strength for yourself and a source of inspiration for others.
How will you celebrate passing your final exam and becoming a CPA?
By getting a lot of sleep and shaving again! Actually, a great way to celebrate once I obtain my license would be to have a picnic with my family.