I grew up in Mount Carmel, Ill., with two siblings and 23 first cousins. One of my jobs as a kid was working at a fast food taco restaurant. Watching what the owner experienced opening day and seeing him expand to other cities fueled my passion to work with business owners.

My sophomore year in high school, a business teacher sparked my interest in accounting. I knew then I wanted to be a partner in a Big 8 accounting firm. Senior year, I took advanced trigonometry. The class had five students. I was the only female. During my senior year at Southern Illinois University, I obtained an internship at Arthur Andersen in St. Louis. [I passed the CPA exam before graduation and was hired full time.] During my first audit, St. Louis had a record snowfall. Our client was in the midst of a merger. In the middle of the night, they flew us to the new company they were acquiring to verify the inventory since it would be in a note to the financial statements.

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