The American Institute of CPAs awarded recent college graduate Andrey A. Stoyan the Beta Alpha Psi’s Medal of Inspiration Award during the honor organization’s annual meeting in Anaheim this August.

The AICPA-sponsored award, with $5,000 cash stipend, is given to a student who has achieved success despite extreme hardships and adversity in his or her life.

Stoyan, a 2013 San Diego State University accounting graduate, emigrated from Russia in 2008 to escape social intolerance and oppressive discrimination with only $1,000 and a limited knowledge of the English language.

“I wanted to share my story because I see many people discouraged by the hardships they face in life, especially when it comes to education, and I really hope that it can inspire someone who faced some adversities in life – be that related to education, economic situation, or mistreatment, abuse, and resentment from society,” Stoyan stated.

While the United States granted Stoyan asylum, he didn’t have a high school diploma or GED and was unable to transfer his Russian transcripts to immediately enroll in SDSU’s accountancy program. Following two years at a local community college, however, Stoyan realized his goal when he was accepted by SDSU. There, Stoyan was elected vice president of professional development of SDSU’s chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, the honors organization for financial information and accounting students. He also interned with KPMG, volunteered on campus and in the local community, and worked 20 to 30 hours per week.

“Andrey’s story of overcoming discrimination in his homeland and ultimately realizing his dream of becoming an accountant in the United States is an inspiration to those around the world who find themselves in similar situations,” said Jeannie Patton, AICPA vice president of academics, professional pathways and inclusion, in a statement. “His perseverance, hard work and dedication to his community made him an ideal choice for the Medal of Inspiration Award.”

Stoyan will begin working as a full-time audit accountant with BDO this fall and is eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship in September.