This month, TCA is extremely proud to shine the light on our newest board member, Michelle Gabertan Begley, CPA. A 1985 TCA alum, Michelle is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Duval County Public Schools, wife to Chris, and loving mother to Andrew and James. When not busy with work, Michelle enjoys volunteering as a member of the Florida Finance Council, state representative for Government Finance Officer Association, and secretary of the Florida Government Finance Officer Association.
Early in her career, Michelle had the goal for working for a Big Four accounting firm. While she had a number of interviews with them, God had a different plan for her. Even as she started her career as a governmental auditor with the Florida Auditor General, she had plans to leave. However, she decided it was best to wait for God’s guidance on her next steps and stayed there for more than 14 years. Those years provided her with the critical training and opportunities she needed, but most importantly a way for her to mentor others. “Although each position provided more responsibilities, I am most proud that each position brought me colleagues that I mentored and trained,” said Michelle. “It thrills me when someone learns new job skills, finishes their degree, or moves on to a more challenging position.” Michelle loves seeing people progress in their career, an aspect she is most proud of when reflecting on her career achievements.
As the valedictorian of her graduating class, Michelle credits TCA with preparing her for success in college and life. She defines success as more than just academic and employment opportunities, but rather as the positive influence you have on those around you. “In my years [at TCA], I met many people from different backgrounds. I learned how to appreciate our differences and how to get along with all,” said Michelle. “This is such an important quality to have as we leave the comforts of a place like TCA and as we represent Jesus to the world.”
Michelle also credits her love of accounting and finances to TCA teacher, Mrs. Jean Whitehead. “When I was a senior, I took a bookkeeping class. I really enjoyed the class and everything I learned in it,” said Michelle. “After graduating from TCA and meeting with my college advisor, I needed to select a major. I didn’t know what I wanted to major in, but selected Accounting. I thought I would like it since I liked my bookkeeping class. So, ‘thank you’ Mrs. Whitehead for influencing my college major and my life’s work.”
Alongside Mrs. Whitehead, TCA as a whole had a great impact on Michelle’s relationship with God. She expressed much gratitude for the teachers who poured their wisdom into her. “Attending TCA provided me several opportunities to learn the Biblical principles which have shaped my character and guided and influenced my life,” said Michelle. “I am thankful for all of my Bible teachers that taught a class that most young people may not appreciate until later in life.”
As a board member and alum, Michelle is happy to see TCA’s progress in academics and athletics since 1985, but is also grateful some aspects have stayed the same. “The spiritual foundation has not changed,” said Michelle. “The school helps students grow spiritually, which serves them well through life.”
To learn more about TCA and how it empowered other alum like Michelle to discover and live out their God-given purpose, visit https://tcajax.org/.