She could not control her emotions and burst into tears when she heard the news of her CA results. “I was happy for me, my family and for the new life that I will enter,” said Prema Jayakumar, daughter of an autorickshaw driver from Tamil Nadu, who lives in a chawl in Malad, Mumbai.

Prema has topped the nationwide Chartered Accountancy examination in her first attempt.

The tenement that she calls home is all of 280 sq. ft. where she and her family live. But she is excited by the sudden elevation of her social status, which will be soon be followed by financial uplift.

Not only was she happy for her, but also for her younger brother, who along with her cracked the same examination. “We both can take care of our family very easily. It’s a matter of few months now, till I get a job. I hope I shouldn’t face much difficulty in that now,” Ms. Jayakumar told The Hindu.

The national first rank is something Ms. Jayakumar had not imagined when she appeared for the examination. “I was sure about passing the exam. I would have been happy with that result. But the first rank was a big surprise,” she said, laughing loudly.

Jayakumar Perumal, her father, moved to Mumbai 25 years ago from Periyakolliyur in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu in search of a better life. “I have been driving this auto for 20 years now. I raised my three children on money I earned from auto driving. I always encouraged them to study and I am very happy for what they achieved,” he said.

Ms. Jayakumar started her preparations for CA exams in 2008, after she completed her T.Y. B.Com. “I didn’t go to any coaching class for my entrance and chose to join coaching classes only for final exam. I received scholarship from my class, so I didn’t have to pay for them,” she said. “They found me cleverer and brighter than others. The scholarship meant that my parents didn’t have to worry about my educational expenses,” she said, embarrassed a little by the self-praise.

Dhanraj, her brother, who completed his T.Y.B. Com in 2010, studied for CA exam along with her. “He had also set his goal of becoming a chartered accountant, when he was in 12th standard. He was studying from then and later on we started studying together. He also worked in a call centre when he was doing his graduation,” she said.