Achieving career goals: How Luke Davison passed the CPA Exam while battling cancer

images of textbooks representing studying for CPA Exam Review

Preparing for the CPA Exam can be daunting for anyone, but tackling the exam while overcoming cancer takes the challenge to a new level. Despite significant life hurdles, Luke Davison shows how perseverance, clear goals and strong support can lead to CPA success. 

Support from the start 

Luke was enjoying his senior year at St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI, playing for the college hockey team and studying accounting when he received life-changing news. He was diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to the help of amazing professors, Luke could navigate school during his cancer treatment and still graduate on time. His family, friends and hockey teammates rallied to assist Luke and his soon-to-be-wife, Kaycee. "It felt like the entire city of Green Bay was helping us get through this," Luke says. 

Moving accounting from "back-up career" to front and center 

Although Luke was studying accounting, his dream was to begin his career as a professional hockey player. "I figured having a degree in accounting would set me up for a career when I was done playing and was ready to transition into the business world." After his diagnosis, plans changed. But Luke shares, "I am a firm believer in God’s plan. I am doing my best to enjoy everything in life that I get to experience." He adds that he's determined to carry a smile through it all. By the time Luke finished cancer treatment, he started working in public accounting at Eide Bailly, LLP, a top 25 CPA and consulting firm. 

Exam preparation put Luke in control

Preparing for the CPA Exam during cancer treatment created a positive distraction for Luke. He explains that it allowed him to focus on something he could control when the rest of his life felt out of his control. "It was a nice disruption from everything I was dealing with mentally. It allowed me to put my focus elsewhere." 

Staying focused on the end goal 

Growing up as an athlete, Luke explains, "I know how beneficial it is to set goals and chase them." His goals helped him remain focused on preparing for the CPA Exam during and following cancer treatments. "I knew once I was offered the job at Eide Bailly that I would eventually want to get my license. I also knew how many more doors a CPA license could open in accounting and business." 

Luke's biggest challenge was balancing work while trying to study, pass tests and handle everything occurring in his personal life. In addition to overcoming cancer, he and his new wife Kaycee had just moved across the country to Arizona with their dog Bauer and were both starting new jobs. 

How Becker helped 

Luke chose Becker resources not only because it was a well-known CPA review, but also because it was recommended by most of the professionals he knew who had passed the CPA Exam. 

"I benefited the most from the mini exams at the end of the chapters and the simulated exams, once I had completed all of the material," Luke says. "Those were very helpful because they gave me a chance to 'see where I was' after I had gone through all of the lectures and multiple choice. [The exams] helped me hone in on areas where I was weaker and gave me confidence that I knew what I was doing in the areas where I was stronger." 

Keeping the motivation going and moving forward

 Establishing a mentor or accountability partner is a great way to stay motivated to study. "My wife was my biggest supporter, and I made a promise to her that I would pass these tests," Luke says. Luke also made a commitment to himself, explaining that once he sets his sights on a goal, he doesn't quit. "I push myself to succeed in what I want. I knew that once I had my license, no one would ever be able to take it away from me and I could always lean on it. That was further motivation." 

Victory on the CPA Exam! 

When his CPA Exam results came, Luke waited until his wife came home so they could share the moment. When he opened results, Luke explains, "We celebrated like little kids—jumping and laughing all over the living room of our condo!" "It was an incredible feeling. It felt like all my hard work was extremely worth it—all the late nights, missing out on things during the weekends or football games at the bars—it was all worth it!"

Advice for those dealing with challenges while reviewing for the CPA Exam

Luke offers this advice for anyone who is thinking that taking the CPA exam on top of everything else is impossible: 

  • Take things one day at a time. "We all only get today, each day. There is no sense in trying to rush through things. It is much more beneficial to slow down. Take in where you are, what you are doing, and WHY you are doing it."
  • Don't be too hard on yourself. "No matter how big the challenge, it is still something you have to overcome. When going through cancer, I kept telling myself, ‘The only way out of this is to go through it. I am not going to let this beat me.' "
  • Trust in yourself. "I failed FAR 5 times before I passed it. There were times I thought about giving up but I kept thinking, 'I can do this. I just have to keep persevering.'" Luke adds that he truly believes the old saying "You can do anything you put your mind to." 

A rewarding career 

Today, Luke continues to enjoy his work as a tax associate at Eide Bailly. He particularly enjoys the company's family atmosphere and the respect and friendship as he and his colleagues work as one big team. "I look forward to progressing in my accounting and tax knowledge so that I can help my firm out in a multitude of ways in the future." 

Today's new challenge 

Luke also shares that he was recently re-diagnosed with the same cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy for the second time. After chemotherapy, he will spend a month in the hospital, completing stem cell transplant therapy. "I am doing okay," Luke says. While he admits it's been an emotional rollercoaster, he adds that the support of family and friends is, once again, a breath of fresh air. 

We are here for you, Luke!

 All of us here at Becker wish Luke and Kaycee the very best! We will continue to cheer for Luke as he faces treatment and the challenges that come with that, and we are confident that he will follow his own great advice to take one day at a time and keep persevering! 

Ready to start your own journey to become a CPA? Get a 14-day free trial to our leading CPA Exam Review and see how we can help you pass the exam and meet your career goals. 

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