My Journey: Becoming a CPA, While Overcoming Challenges as a Deaf Individual
By Nina A. Butts
Barriers. Opportunities. Safety nets. My life has been a combination of all these. I am Nina Alphin Butts, and I am part of the BRC team in Dunn. I am a wife, a mother of two daughters, a Certified Public Accountant, and I am deaf.
At two years of age, my family embarked on a journey with me into the unfamiliar territory of deafness. The Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf in Wilson was instrumental in providing us with resources to navigate the road, and we all began learning sign language. When I was seven years old, my parents were presented the opportunity for me to receive a cochlear implant at UNC Memorial Hospital. At the time, this procedure was still under medical study for children and participation was limited. It was also controversial in the deaf community. My parents elected for me to participate.
With a safety net of family and friends, I traveled many miles between Dunn and Wilson for my early education. Because of good grades, an eagerness to learn, and a willingness to study, I began mainstreaming part-time into public school with the aid of an interpreter. After completing seventh grade in Wilson, I began eighth grade full-time in the Harnett County school system in Dunn. I was introduced to my first accounting course in high school, and I was hooked. I decided to follow my mother’s footsteps and major in accounting at Campbell University. I chose Campbell’s five-year plan to receive a Bachelor’s in Accounting and a Master’s in Business Administration. The opportunity to work with Oscar N. Harris & Associates, P.A. came soon after a May 2004 graduation and a June wedding to Ray Butts. After my first tax season, my work team and my home team encouraged me to study for the CPA exam. It was the hardest exam I had ever taken! I passed in 2007 and also found out I was pregnant with our first daughter.
The journey has not been without barriers and frustrations experienced because of my deafness. From time to time, I still struggle with my biggest challenge, which is to clearly communicate with others. Technology plays a huge role in helping me overcome this challenge. The opportunities given to me by BRC has given me the chance to grow in a new area. I am grateful to BRC for accommodating my needs and having faith to see beyond my deafness. My mom never allowed me to use my deafness as an excuse not to succeed in what I wanted to accomplish. With the safety net of BRC’s added technology and their willingness to provide interpretive assistance, I look forward to many years as a productive part of the team.