Give Your Way
About the Annual Fund
Endowment & Scholarships
by Thomas Giffin
Michelle McGlaun has it figured out.
She loves going to work every day in the structure of a growing CPA firm. She has worked hard to earn her respected spot in the company, and the only aspect of life she enjoys more than her demanding job is the chaos and, “family-noise,” that comes in the wake of her 11-year-old son.
Professionally, Michelle is the perfect blend of marketing appeal mixed with an accountant’s acumen and attention to detail. She moves comfortably inside her skilled environment. Personally, she admits that having her house overflowing with her son’s friends is where she finds the most happiness.
Like anyone, there are times when stress and hectic arrive at her doorstep; yet Michelle has balance. If her life were living room furniture, she would be the embodiment of Feng Shui.
Recently, in the middle of this state of equilibrium, the 1997 graduate of Clayton State University reached out to volunteer on the University Board of Advisors at her alma mater. Her objective is quite simple. Michelle hopes her journey and her behind-the-scenes story will inspire other CSU students. Michelle’s perspective originates in the classroom. Plus, there are a few lessons she can pass along that were never part of the university curriculum.
“I enrolled at Clayton State as an 18-year-old freshman. I had very little guidance. High school counselors were not as equipped as they are today, and I was the first one in my family to attempt college,” Michelle unabashedly states. “I soon discovered the pressures of working full time, going to school full time, and the responsibilities associated with family can create an avalanche of pressure; pressure that can quickly suffocate a young person. I know it did me.”
After a year-and-half on the merry-go-round of too little time, and too much responsibility, Michelle decided that perhaps Clayton State University was not her path of future success.
“I quit. I just wanted to work and try to make a living,” she flatly states. “But that plan came to an abrupt halt with a very specific event. A moment when I knew that I wanted more than what I was seeing in the middle of the dairy department on the night shift.”
Michelle said an employee did not show up for work and the store manager proceeded to load the freezer in the dairy section. Gallons of milk were heaved into place in the old-time freezer compartments. Michelle’s manager… was eight months pregnant at the time.
“That night, that very instant I developed a clear plan… not a timeline… but a clear plan of what I wanted to do with my life. I saw what I did not want to happen to me. The journey began that instant,” Michelle said.
Michelle never considered another institution. It was back to Clayton State. There were sacrifices and the process was timed in years, not semesters. She admits she harbored thoughts of quitting again, but she worked through the difficult periods. In the end, her journey culminated with a Clayton State diploma that she proudly displays today in her upscale, stylish business office at Whaley Hammonds Tomasello P.C.
Today, Michelle enjoys the flexibility of her accounting post. She relishes interacting with the professionals in the different departments. Each day a new challenge arises, but the same drive that allowed Michelle to arrive at her director post, allows her to succeed in the competitive accounting world.
Success has not dimmed the memories of the sacrifices that Michelle made. “I missed a lot of my son’s childhood,” she softly says. “But I am also grateful for the role that that Clayton State played in my life.”
She is quick to admit that the university gave her a chance… twice. The ambition was and is all Michelle. The avenue that channeled that enterprise into attainment is Clayton State.
So now, Michelle is giving back with her role on the volunteer board at CSU.
“I know my Clayton State story is untraditional. So if I can help by serving as a volunteer or sharing my experiences with just one student who is also on an untraditional path... then maybe I can make it just a little easier for them,” Michelle states. “I see that as my way of paying it back to everyone at Clayton State who believed in me even during the hard times.”
The journey was long. The path was less-than-straight. However, if you have yet to hear… Clayton State graduate Michelle McGlaun has this life-balance thing all figured out. Just ask her co-workers. Just ask her son.