Marilu Cruz, a junior at the University of Washington, received Beta Alpha Psi’s Medal of Inspiration Award.
The award, sponsored by the AICPA, is given to 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. Beta Alpha Psi is an honorary organization for accounting, financial and information systems students and professionals.
Cruz achieved academic success despite being raised by her grandparents under harsh economic conditions in Mexico, following the murder of her father by guerillas when she was 6 years old.
Cruz, who immigrated to Wapato, Wash., when she was 11, struggled in middle school because she did not speak English. In high school, she dramatically improved her writing, speaking and leadership skills and com mitted to her studies and extracurricular activities.
Cruz also received the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which helped pay her expenses at the University of Washington, where she is an accounting major. She is a volunteer mentor for UW’s Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity and is on the dean’s list. She is chief events officer for Beta Alpha Psi and is an intern at KPMG.
The award includes a $5,000 cash stipend, which Cruz plans to use tohelp continue her education in a master’s in public accounting program. Dennis Reigle, the AICPA’s director of Academic & Career Development, and Stephanie M. Bryant, past president of Beta Alpha Psi, presented the award at the organization’s 2009 annual meeting in Brooklyn, N.Y.