Hefgine G. Fils-Aime, a recent graduate of the University of South Florida, was given the Beta Alpha Psi Medal of Inspiration Award at the organization's annual meeting in Denver.

The award, sponsored by the American Institute of CPAs, is given to students who have experienced extreme hardships in their lives and succeeded in spite of that.

"Hefgine Fils-Aime's life story is an inspiring one for everyone who is part of Beta Alpha Psi," said Mary Stone, president of Beta Alpha Psi.  "For members, it is a story to remember when life seems overwhelming or unfair. For faculty advisors, forum members, and staff, it is a story to remember when confronted by the media stereotype that today's students don't work hard.  For all of us, it is reminder that great challenges can be overcome with hard work, perseverance and good humor."

At 14, Fils-Aime and her sister were sent by her parents from her native Haiti to live with relatives in Florida to protect them from kidnapping. Obliged to learn English for the first time, she nonetheless managed to graduate from high school at age 16, and enrolled in the University of South Florida. While studying there, she lost her mother in the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake. She graduated in May of this year, with an overall grade point average of 3.89.

The award comes with a $5,000 cash stipend, which Fils-Aime plans to use to help pursue a Master's in Accountancy at Wake Forest University.

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