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.”