Kathleen Armstrong became the first energy manager for the Merced Union High School District (MUHSD) in 2008. While at MUHSD, she started the first recycling campus program, and worked with maintenance staff to implement EMS systems on campuses to analyze and evaluate energy usage.
She loved her job, but couldn’t convince the Board that her position was critical during budget cuts – even though Armstrong helped save the district $175,000 in energy usage and produced energy workshops for administrators. When she lost her job, Armstrong knew she wanted to continue on her green path. “Energy education is the most important factor in communicating the importance of energy efficiency and green alternatives for our schools. I did research and San Diego State really offered a suite of classes and had a certificate program, the Green Energy Management Certificate, so I enrolled to learn additional skills that could help me communicate the importance of energy efficiency and green alternatives to a wider audience,” says Armstrong.
Armstrong notes that the classes gave her more confidence and she felt that one of her instructors mentored her through the program. “The instructor understood how frustrated I was and because she is an energy professional, she really wanted to make sure that I got the most out of the courses,” she says.
During her green study, Armstrong noticed a job opportunity for a program coordinator at Conservation Services Group, one of the most respected energy efficiency and conservation companies in the U.S.
“I thought ‘Oh my goodness, this is the opportunity of a lifetime, I have to apply. And then I got the job!’ I really feel the combination of being in SDSU’s Green Energy Management program, networking with other energy professionals within the program, and hands-on guidance from my instructor, Liz De Souza, helped position me to succeed,” Armstrong says.
“I feel very lucky in so many ways because San Diego State has been wonderful and to segue from an exciting curriculum to working for a mission-driven organization through my classes has been a dream come true,” Armstrong adds.
Today, she couldn’t be happier with her decision to pursue a Green Energy Management certificate at SDSU. She works for a company that she loves, and resides on a ranch in the Sierra Foothills with her husband, Tom, where she raises organic beef with the help of her four dogs.
“I try to live what I learned and share this with others. We produce about 50% of what we eat from our vegetable gardens, chickens, and cows. We recycle and compost. And, I’m working in a field I love with a company that is doing great work,” Armstrong says.