Accounting professor Sheri Thomas often glances at the quote on the wall of her office in the BYU Marriott School of Business: “Today I choose to be brave. I choose courage over comfort.” While pursuing her dream to be a stay-at-home mother, she faced life-altering trials that refined her and helped her refocus her dream to teach accounting.
During Thomas’s time in the master of accounting program at BYU Marriott’s School of Accountancy, she taught an introductory accounting course. “I fell in love with teaching,” she says. After Thomas graduated and worked for accounting firms, she recalls, “That teaching experience was always in the back of my mind.” Now, as she relives this passion for teaching as a full-time faculty, Thomas reflects on how her life path and realized dreams are nothing like what she had planned as a young accounting student.
After her husband abruptly left fifteen years ago, Thomas was left to care and provide for her four children. “I was so scared of being a single working mother, and I couldn’t have confidently provided the way I did if I had not finished my masters at BYU in 1989,” Thomas says.
When Thomas reentered the workforce as a single mother, she faced challenges working in a male-dominated field. “Sometimes when I spoke up, I felt I wasn’t heard with the same level of respect or acceptance as a male colleague,” she says. Thomas had to find the courage to confront those who treated her unfairly. Choosing to push through those uncomfortable situations eventually led her to become the chief financial officer (CFO) of Coherex Medical for 13 years.
During the majority of this time, Thomas was also part-time faculty at BYU Marriott. Unlike many others in academia, Thomas never pursued a doctorate. Even so, she was hired to teach because of her professional experience. “I built up my teaching experiences at colleges hiring professionals. My work in accounting and as a CFO afforded me the opportunity to teach here at BYU Marriott,” Thomas says.
She continued teaching part-time and serving as a CFO until 2022 when she accepted the full-time faculty position. Through unexpected life events, Thomas attributes her faith in Christ as the main source of her courage. “I knew I needed Him as my partner throughout my trials as a single working mother. I firmly believe Christ makes more of us than we could have ever made by ourselves,” she says.
Thomas navigates her trials through faith and finds daily motivation in President Teddy Roosevelt’s famous “Man in the Arena” speech: “The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena... who strives valiantly... and who in the end while he may not know the triumph of high achievement, at least when he fails, he does so daring greatly.”
These words hang in her on-campus office today. “The quote hung on my wall during college too,” Thomas says. “When I’m feeling insecure or like I don’t dare to go try something new or to put myself out there, I read that quote and choose to charge forward.”
As Thomas teaches, she hopes to inspire courage and compassion in every one of her students within the School of Accountancy. “I can help share my life experience to give my hardworking students strength. The accounting program is not easy, and they have their whole lives ahead of them.” She says, “I’m living my dream now!”
Written by Alice Gubler