Kiara R. Hernández-González’s journey to become a certified public accountant required years of dedication. “It hasn’t been easy to get where I am,” she said.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she set goals early. At age 18, she went to university and attended the Business School of Administration with a focus on accounting. “I knew for a fact that I was not good at science,” she said, then smiled. “But I was very good with numbers, and math was my favorite class, so I wanted a career in that area.”

She recalled being fascinated as a youth watching her dad do bank reconciliations with the family checkbook each month at the kitchen table. “My parents modeled good money management, and we got to travel as a family quite a bit.”

The dedicated young woman finished a bachelor’s degree in 2011 and set a deadline within six months to pass her accounting exams for certification. “My first attempt at the initial exam was a disaster,” Kiara said. “The content on the four-hour test was different from what I studied in college.”

She had no source of income and didn’t want to borrow from family or friends. To support herself, she began working at a bank in Puerto Rico. On her first day there, she arrived with teary eyes and a red nose. Everyone thought she just had jitters. In fact, she was heartbroken that the accounting exam results on the first test showed her score one point below passing. She gave up on accounting and dedicated herself to learning how to help others plan for retirement. For the next four years, she advised clients how to grow savings and build portfolios.

In 2014, she and her husband saw an opportunity to change environments for growth and decided to relocate to Florida. “I put a deadline for us to move by 2016. We spent a year planning, selling cars, and paying off debts.”

Once in Florida, an accounting firm hired her. With encouragement from her boss, she decided to again pursue accounting credentials. For the next three years, she juggled a demanding full-time job preparing tax returns—all the while studying nights for the battery of four exams she must pass in Florida to become an accountant.

“If it wasn’t for my family members’ support, I wouldn’t have survived those years,” she said.

By April 2017, her commitment reaped results. She passed the first of four accounting exams in Florida toward certification, and in her second language! “I told myself I can do this. One exam down, three more to go.”

Pressure mounted with expensive review packets costing thousands and deadlines looming for passing the remaining tests. She passed the second exam in August 2017 and the third a year later. Finally, in February 2019 she finished the last state exam, as well as a three-hour college course also required according to state regulations.

“The main key for success is patience,” she said. “Everything comes at the right time and not just when you want it.”

A piece of wisdom she gained along the way was not questioning why things had to be difficult. Though she tried to plan everything out, she accepted when her ideas didn’t work exactly as she expected. “If you bring God into the place with you, He knows your right time.”

*** “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them” (Isaiah 42:16 NIV).

Other faith-based articles and books by Tracy Smoak can be found at

For a helpful article about preparing 2021 tax filings, go to

A free checklist of documents to organize in preparation for filing a tax return can be found at