Kenape makes his family proud

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene ,

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CONGRATULATIONS: Kenape Lesa (right) with his older brother Peniamina Lesa who also graduated together with him as a Civil Engineer.

CONGRATULATIONS: Kenape Lesa (right) with his older brother Peniamina Lesa who also graduated together with him as a Civil Engineer.

A young man has made his family in Samoa, American Samoa, United States of America and all over the world proud.

Kenape Lesa who holds a Masters in Accounting from Brigham Young University recently became a Certified Public Accountant in the United States of America.

The son of Ropeti and Farrah Lesa, Kenape hails from Tafuna, American Samoa, Moata’a and Satitoa, Aleipata. He is the proud grandson of Taulapapa Fa’amanatu Nielsen.

He is humbled and quietly proud of what he has achieved. But he said he couldn’t have done without his parents who were his biggest motivation. His father, Ropeti, challenged him at the start.

“Ia feai lou loto,” he was told. In English, it translates to ‘be brave.”

“These are the words that made me work hard when I left for B.Y.U,” he told the Samoa Observer.

Kenape had always wanted to be an Accountant. And it seems he was destined to become one. 

He started his schooling at Aua Elementary School before he moved to Pomona, California where he attended Palomares Middle School.

He returned to Pago and attended Samoana High School where he graduated top 10 of his class. This earned him a full scholarship at Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah.

While there, he was selected by his Accounting Professor to compete in the Deloitte tax competition where their B.Y.U. Tax Team became regional champions and national finalists.

But Kenape said it has been a challenging journey.

 “To become a Certified Public Accountant (C.P.A.) here in the US, one must have sufficient academic credits and pass all four board exams (Financial Reporting, Audit, Regulation, and Business Economics) issued by National Association of State Boards of Accountancy,” he said.

“As such, in 2015, I graduated with my Masters in accounting from one of the top accounting programmes in the country and I recently passed my last board exam in August this year.” 

So what motivated him?

“My biggest motivation are my parents,” he said. “They've sacrificed so much to get me where I am today and obtaining my C.P.A. is a way for me to say "thank you."

“When I started my first semester in the college, I quickly recognized how academically behind I was compared to an average B.Y.U. student,” he said.

“In every class, I felt I was at an extreme disadvantage and I felt like I didn’t belong there"

“The feeling of inadequacy and out-of-place overwhelmed me daily. Fortunately, I remembered my father's fierce and encouraging words before I left the home for BYU, 'Ia feai le loko' and I knew what I had to do to survive at B.Y.U."

“I knew I would have to put in the extra hours and effort just so I can be as competitive as an average B.Y.U. student and so I did. Almost every day, except for Sunday, I would not go to bed until 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning because I was either doing homework or studying." 

“While all my friends were going out on the weekends, I was in my room hitting the books and my social life was nonexistent." 

“However at the end of day, it all paid off.”

So how does he feel?

“Well, like anyone who had gone through so many challenges to get to where it is now I sincerely feel humbled and grateful for this achievement,” he said.

 “It definitely wasn't easy, but I hope to improve and bless the lives of others, especially the lives of our younger generation."

“I am currently working for a Forturne 500 company called Pacific Life as a Tax Analyst." 

“Before that, I worked for one of the largest accounting firms in the world, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Pacific Life was a client of mine and they recruited me to work for them full time in February."

“All of these I wouldn’t be able to achieve it without the help of my hardworking parents, Ropeti and Farrah Lesa, my grandparents Fainu’ulelei and Fa’amanatu Nielsen of Moata’a for all their love, guidance and unwavering support especially my wife Sheryl Seiler Lesa for all the love and the support.”

Kenape is the second child of Ropeti and Farrah Lesa’s four children.

His grandmother Taulapapa Fa’amanatu Nielsen who is the President of the Nurses Association told the Samoa Observer that she is very proud of her grandson and his achievement.

“He had worked so hard to get to where he is now and all that had been paid off,” she said.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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