BAP's Medal of Inspiration Honors Student Who Has Overcome Adversity

Hefgine G. Fils-Aime, a spring 2011 graduate of the University of South Florida, received Beta Alpha Psi’s Medal of Inspiration Award.
The award, sponsored by the Institute, recognizes 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. The award includes a $5,000 cash stipend, which Fils-Aime plans to use to help continue her education by pursuing a master’s degree in accounting at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.

In the mid-2000s, Fils-Aime’s parents, fearful that their two young daughters would become victims of Haiti’s new terror kidnappings, sent her and her sister to Florida to live with relatives. Fils-Aime, a native French and Creole speaker, had to learn English immediately. Because she skipped a grade in Haiti, and due to differences between the Haitian and U.S. school systems, her U.S. high school enrolled her as a junior at age 14. She had to take Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test to bring her up to date with her class level; she passed the exams in English and went on to graduate at age 16 and enroll in the University of South Florida.

When Haiti was hit with a 7.0 earthquake in 2010, Fils-Aime waited days for news of her family, only to learn that her mother had died when her parents’ home collapsed. Due to the damage in Port-au-Prince, she was unable to attend her mother’s funeral.

Despite this emotional turmoil, Fils-Aime continued her education and extracurricular activities, including serving as a student project support assistant at the Business Systems Reengineering Department; a candidate for Beta Alpha Psi; and the Brothers Points coordinator for Alpha Kappa Psi. PricewaterhouseCoopers also selected her to attend its Florida Leadership Adventure in the summer of 2010.

In May 2011, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting with a 3.89 GPA and received a full-time job offer from PwC.

Beta Alpha Psi is the honorary organization for financial information students and professionals. Its primary objective is to encourage and give recognition to scholastic and professional excellence in the business information field.

Photo: Heather Collins, AICPA director—Academic & Career Awareness, (left) and Hefgine Fils-Aime. Photo by David Schmidt/2011 Photography.

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