AICPA and honor organization Beta Alpha Psi have awarded their Medal of Inspiration to University of North Carolina at Charlotte student Joyce Chung. The award, which includes a $5,000 cash stipend, is given to a Beta Alpha Psi student member who has experienced extreme hardships and demonstrated an unusually high level of success despite that adversity.
Chung was born in South Korea and moved to the U.S. two months later. Her mother passed away from breast cancer when Chung was 10 years old, forcing her to assume household responsibilities for her father and three younger brothers. Her father remarried but her stepmother passed away from brain cancer when Chung was 15, pushing her back in the role of caring for her family.
After initially enrolling at UNC Charlotte after high school, Chung found the challenge of attending college while working to help take care of her family was too much, so she took a two-year break from school to focus on her mental health. While getting ready to move to Raleigh and attend North Carolina State to complete her college education, her father was diagnosed with colon cancer and soon passed away, making Chung the official head of her family and the legal guardian of her younger brothers at just 23 years old.
Chung eventually re-enrolled at UNC Charlotte and continues to live with her three younger brothers as their primary caregiver. She recently completed one internship, accepted an offer for another internship with a Fortune 500 Bank and intends to earn her CPA certification after she graduates in May 2021.
“Joyce’s academic success despite challenges growing up is what makes her a fitting recipient of this award,” says Amy Merletti, AICPA’s senior manager of academic and student engagement. “Her story is a testament that hard work, determination and kindness in the face of adversity can overcome long odds.”