Alum Caroline Winn named COO of San Diego energy company

Caroline A. Winn ’85 (Electrical Engineering) has kept her engine going since her graduation from Sacramento State.

Winn, 53, has been promoted to chief operating officer of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).  Winn, who previously was the company’s chief energy delivery officer, joined SDG&E in 1986, starting as an associate engineer and working her way up in positions of increased responsibility.

As chief energy delivery officer, Winn oversaw electric distribution operations and gas services.  She also handled customer services and external and state legislative affairs for SDG&E.

Before that Winn was vice president of customer services for five years and from 2000 to 2010 she served as director of distribution operations, director of electric distribution operations, director of electric distribution services and director of supply management.

In 2012 Winn received a Customer Service Leader of the Year award from Energy Central’s Intelligent Utility magazine for starting a smart grid technology and an enhanced customer call center to help better serve the customers.

In addition to her degree from Sac State, Winn is a registered professional engineer with the state of California.  She also serves on the board of directors of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Western Energy Institute and the Classroom of the Future Foundation. – Zack Jordan

Sac State’s Malika Murray wins CSU Trustees scholarship

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Malika Murray, winner of a 2016 California State University (CSU) Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement, is a dreamer committed to making dreams come true for others.

“I am particularly concerned with the rights of people who have been both historically and currently marginalized because of ethnicity and socioeconomic status,” she says.

“It is my responsibility to combat those processes, theories, and power struggles that serve to oppress the underrepresented. At the heart of my drive to lead others in school and in the community is my unswerving commitment to bettering the quality of their lives and their societies through education.”

Murray is a graduate student in Sacramento State’s Doctorate of Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) program. She received the Trustee Emeritus Murray L. Galinson Scholar award and plans to use her $8,000 scholarship toward her tuition fees. She expects to graduate from Sac State in spring 2017.

The Trustees’ Awards for Outstanding Achievement were given to 24 students – one from each of the 23 CSU campuses and a special award for the top-scoring CSU-wide scholar – who have demonstrated superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service, and financial need.

Murray was born in New York City. She and her younger brother were raised in “a loving Puerto Rican household” by their mother and grandmother. The family moved to the San Francisco area when Murray was a teenager, and she started working with inner-city kids by age 16. She served as a recreation leader, afterschool leader, and activities director at a middle school.

“I realized then that I wanted to work with underrepresented young people as a career,” she says.

She dropped out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to raise her three children as a single mom, and she ran a home-based day-care center while they were young.

She returned to college in 2000, enrolling at Sac State to earn her bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies. Three months after graduation, she got a job teaching at Sacramento’s Luther Burbank High School. She taught at a few other schools in the area before deciding to make a major change in her life.

She returned to Sac State in 2011 to get her master’s degree in bilingual and multicultural education.

“I realized that I needed still more education to be able to impact and influence education for underrepresented students,” she says. And so she enrolled in the Ed.D. program in 2014.

“There are many things I want to do after I get my doctorate,” she says. “I want to develop educational theory. I want to write about the experiences of teachers and students of color. I want to become a professor and train new educators. And I would love to open a school or educational center/museum based on the cultural arts.”

More than 340 CSU students have received CSU Trustees awards since the endowed scholarship fund was created in 1984 by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. The CSU Board of Trustees in 1999 partnered with the foundation and supplements the endowment with contributions from the Trustees and private donors.

“I am extremely grateful and humbled for the scholarship,” says Murray. “I want the CSU to know that I dedicate my life to helping others through education, in the same way that I was helped by caring, conscientious teachers and professors.”

STEMinent: Alumnus math teacher named among the nation’s best

Andy Kotko
First-grade math teacher Andy Kotko was one of 213 educators nationwide to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics & Science Training in 2016. (Folsom Cordova Unified School District/Daniel Thigpen)

These days, Andy Kotko is feeling positively presidential.

The Sac State alumnus and first-grade math teacher found himself in the White House on Sept. 8, being honored as one of the best educators in the nation. He and 212 other teachers have been awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics & Science Training – the highest distinction of its kind that recognizes elite STEM teachers.

His road to the Washington, D.C., started in another capital – California’s – at Sacramento State, where he earned his degree in physics. Kotko’s background in science, though it was not ultimately his calling, helped craft the unique skill set he employs today at Mather Heights Elementary in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District.

“Physicists might not realize it, but they probably make some of the best teachers,” he says, “because they can take a really complex system and break it down into all the variables, find the problems ,and then address them.”

For Kotko, the third time’s a charm: He has twice been a finalist for the Presidential Award before winning it this year. He and the other awardees receive a $10,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Over 15 years, Kotko has honed his craft in the classroom, introducing students to math at a crucial time in their educational lives.

“It’s at a very young age where kids decide whether they’re good at math or good at science, and once they kind of check out, it’s that self-fulfilling prophecy: ‘Oh, I’m not a math person,’ ” he says.“Maybe you just haven’t been taught properly.”

Kotko engages students by learning how each works individually, watching the mistakes he or she makes, and reframing the experience so each can master the concept. By taking a systematic, step-by-step approach, Kotko says he can lead his students to complete very challenging work that doesn’t feel all that difficult.

His methods have been paying off as he has helped to shape the next generation of STEM leaders. But it’s his work outside the classroom that has helped Kotko make a difference on an even greater scale.

In 2014, he was appointed chair of the California Teacher Advisory Council, where he lends his voice to public policy issues that affect educators across the state. He is also a founding teacher in his district’s Academy for Advanced Learning, which draws students of all ages from across the region for inquiry and project-based learning.

His efforts across the board have earned him his field’s most prestigious honor, one that he attributes to the teachers who influenced him throughout his own school career.

“Even now, I couldn’t do what I do by myself,” Kotko says. “I’ve got great colleagues, great families, and it’s this great big team that’s working together. The kids, they’re working their tails off.

“When all that comes together, that’s where the magic happens.”