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Wednesday, September 16, 2009.

Beegie Marie Ebersbacher

Looking back on the last 20 years of her life, Beegie Ebersbacher can point to a few life-changing moments.

There was the ride along in an ambulance that led to her getting married.

Beegie
Beegie Ebersbacher

There was the back injury that trounced her dream of becoming a cop.

And then there was the day sitting in class at Antelope Valley College where she heard the girl in front of her talking about going to USC.

Meet Beegie Marie Ebersbacher: wife, mom of two boys and, at age 36, a partner and shareholder in an accounting firm with more than 30 locations across the country.

 It typically takes 10 to 12 years or more to make partner in such a firm. Beegie made it in eight.
To fully appreciate where Beegie is now, one has to go back to when she was just 16 and graduating from high school.

She is quick to point out the early graduation from high school had less to do with academic prowess and more about just wanting to cram in the work to get a diploma sooner.

The fall after high school graduation she enrolled at Antelope Valley College.

“I started taking classes, but not taking it all that seriously,” she said.

Her plan was to go into law enforcement, then attend school at night to become a police psychologist. She was just passing time until she turned 21 so she could become a cop.

Unfortunately, a severe injury to her back while working at a drug store in 1991 scuttled her plans. She got married shortly after that to Paul, an EMT she had met while experiencing that line of work.

Beegie continued at AVC.

“I had no idea what I was doing,” she said. “Dave Champagne’s (business) class really interested me. I wanted to do something. I couldn’t work at Thrifty’s the rest of my life.”

Without a clear direction, Beegie launched into a self-discovery phase. She took a variety of general education courses. Never one to sit idly, she got involved in student government.

“I think I just liked to get involved in things and having a place to be,” she said.

The advisor for the student government was Wanda Gallerson, dean of student development, who would prove to be a mentor and motivator for the young student.

“Wanda just kept saying, ‘What’re you going to do when you get out of AVC’,” Beegie said.

Then came the in-class conversation where the young woman in front of Beegie talked about going to the University of Southern California … for free.

Beegie laughs about it now. It was a statement that was both shocking and challenging at the same time. Beegie set her sights on transferring to USC.

She took an aptitude test through the college’s Career Center. Finance and marketing were identified as good matches for Beegie.

“That looked like something I could do and would enjoy doing,” she said. And going to USC was the ticket to get her there.

Yet that created another challenge. Beegie was still far short of the classes she needed to transfer to the university and she didn’t want to spend another year completing the required courses.
So, she enrolled in 28 units during a single semester. It was an incredible course load for any student. Full-time student status is 12 units a semester. Beegie completed the semester with straight A’s.

“She’ll work harder than anyone else,” Gallerson said of Beegie’s ability to excel.

“SC had a school of business. I got accepted to the school of business. I still didn’t know exactly what I was going to do,” Beegie said.

Knowing the importance of connections in the business world, she did her best to be involved at USC, in spite of the long daily commute from her Lake Los Angeles home to campus. Her involvement included membership in a finance club.

A talk by a partner from the Arthur Andersen accounting firm at one of the club’s meetings proved to be a turning point. The businessman spoke about the litigation and investigation side of the accounting business.

“I’m not joking when I say it felt like the sky opened up above me. This is everything I ever wanted to do wrapped up in one thing,” Beegie said.

The investigation aspect appealed to Beegie’s interest in law enforcement. Plus, there was the match to finance and marketing that were identified through the aptitude test.

She graduated from USC with a bachelor’s degree in business finance and economics in 1996. She was hired by a Bakersfield accounting firm where she could pursue her interest in litigation.

“I did litigation from the day I walked in the door,” she said.

Litigation support involves four areas:

  • Business valuation, typically done in buyouts or as part of divorce proceedings.
  • Family law, in determining the income of self-employed people, and forensic accounting, to determine if money is being siphoned off a business.
  • Fraud investigations.
  • Economic damages, used in breach of contract and personal injury cases.

Within three years, Beegie was testifying in court cases – something that does not usually happen with people in the business until after five years.

She then sought to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Following a paper trail as part of an audit may not sound as exciting as chasing down crooks in a squad car. Yet it proved to be a perfect match for the AVC graduate.

During her first audit of a firm, Beegie uncovered a fraud involving a manager who had misappropriated company funds. The manager was fired and integrity was restored to the company.

She holds credentials as a CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and Accredited in Business Valuation (CBV).

Beegie now works for Mayer Hoffman McCann as a director in the litigation and valuation group, splitting time between the firm’s Los Angeles office and her Bakersfield home office. Her husband works as a deputy for the Kern County Sheriff’s Department. The couple has two children, Ray, 9, and Ryan, 11.

“I think I’m the luckiest person in the world because I’ve got the greatest kids and the most wonderful husband in the world,” she said.

She credits Antelope Valley College with turning her life around.

“I would never have kept going. It’s the people there, people like Wanda who were encouraging. She interacted with us. She engaged me.”

She rattles off the names of faculty members who supported her: Superior Court Judge Frank Jackson, who taught business law; Nelda Pugh, accounting; Dr. Matthew Jaffe, history; Kathryn Pletsch, algebra; and others.

“These are people that I’ll just never forget. They were nothing but cheerleaders.”

Beegie continues to attract accolades of her own, including the Women to Watch Award by a statewide professional organization. The organization provided a scholarship to a college of Beegie’s choice. She directed the scholarship to AVC.

As for her accomplishments of the last 20 years, she said: “I am way ahead of where I thought I’d ever be.”