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  • Erika Johnson

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  • Erika Johnson

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Employee of the Year Awards

Principal Exemplary Staff Employee of the Year Margaret “Mimie” Rattanachane. Photos by Erika Johnson/University Communications.

Inspiring Greatness in Others

Staff members honored at Employee of the Year Awards

Margaret Rattanachane’s energy abounds, powered by a love for people and creating community. Adored by her colleagues, who affectionately call her “Mimie,” she is known as the heart and pulse of UC San Diego’s Department of Education Studies. As a program and faculty assistant, she serves as an ambassador and relationship builder, increasing awareness of the ways in which faculty and students are transforming educational access. Both on campus and in the local community, she initiates conversations and stewards meaningful connections, inspiring others to become changemakers.

Rattanachane was named Principal Exemplary Staff Employee of the Year and was honored along with nine other recipients at the 33rd annual UC San Diego Exemplary Staff Employee of the Year Awards on May 21. Staff members were celebrated for their integrity and caring leadership. Many serve as the linchpin of their departments, giving selflessly in an effort to boost the success of their entire team.

“Congratulations to our 10 staff honorees, each of whom stand out for modeling UC San Diego’s Principles of Community and going above and beyond to advance the mission of our campus,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla at the ceremony. “Each of you represent the dedication and commitment of all of our staff members. I can’t thank you enough for the work that you do to elevate UC San Diego to even greater heights.”

Employee of the Year Awards

Ten staff members were honored for their exceptional contributions to the campus and local community at the 33rd annual Exemplary Staff Employee of the Year Awards.

Rather than be in the spotlight, Rattanachane prefers to devote her time to cultivating a space for others to do their best work. For the past two years, she has led the coordination of the regional Teaching and Learning Conference for Educators. Co-hosted by UC San Diego’s CREATE (Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment & Teaching Excellence), the event draws over 300 local teachers. The goal is to collectively share what works and discover the latest breakthroughs in how to maximize student-learning outcomes.   

“Margaret is a team player. When she found out that she was chosen to be the Principal Exemplary Employee of the Year, the first thing she said was ‘WE did it!’ said Hawiza Sharpe, financial manager for the Department of Education Studies. “No work is too small for her, especially if the work can make someone’s day better.”

Rattanachane is constantly on the lookout for ways to create and strengthen strategic partnerships. For the past two years, she has organized a week-long program for teachers-in-training from Spain to visit UC San Diego to learn from Education Studies students about how local teachers approach bilingual education. Rather than just focusing on methodology, she creatively engages students in cultural immersion activities in the diverse San Diego region, like a picnic and discussion at Chicano Park. Her goal is for the visit to evolve into an international exchange program, so that students from both universities can benefit from different global perspectives.

Employee of the Year Awards

Colleagues and friends cheered on staff honorees, who were celebrated for their dedication, positivity and caring leadership.

“Margaret brings people together and reminds you that life is a really special thing,” said Andrew Matschiner, an Education Studies doctoral student. “She does this with friendship, love, excitement and energy…and that has a ripple effect on everyone in the department.”

“I enjoy bringing people together for deep conversations and increasing visibility of the important work that our faculty and students do,” said Rattanachane. “Being the coordinator in these areas has given me a platform to advance the mission of our department—to transform education in a diverse society.”

Rattanachane—a first-generation Laotian who graduated from UC San Diego in 2013 with a degree in management science—developed a passion for enhancing access when she took on her first staff position in the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. She learned to incorporate social justice and inclusion into all of her work, focusing particularly on promoting belonging among staff members.

“Margaret is an incredible driving force in our committees. She has this take-the-bull-by-the-horns, let’s just do it attitude,” said Madelyne Agamata, event coordinator in the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. “She is just such a pleasure to work with, with an incredible optimistic attitude.”

Her roster of extracurricular involvement ranges from serving on the annual Black History Month Scholarship Brunch committee to being staff chair of the Faculty and Staff Giving Council and contributing to the Division of Social Sciences Communications Council. She also helped establish the annual Staff Mixer event, something she says started as a fun social idea but morphed into a significant networking opportunity for staff across campus.

“UC San Diego has given me the ability to make an impact in many ways” said Rattanachane. “As an alumna, I embrace Triton pride in everything that I do. Giving back allows me to stay connected to programs that support our students, research and community.”

2017-18 Exemplary Staff Employee of the Year Award Program recipients:

Principal Exemplary Staff Employee of the Year:

Margaret “Mimie” Rattanachane—Blank Assistant 3 (Video)
Academic Affairs: Education Studies

Exemplary Staff Employees of the Year:

Veronica Abreu—Student Services Advisor 3 (Video)
Academic Affairs: Computer Science and Engineering
Aaron Davis—Research and Development Engineer 3 (Video)
Marine Sciences: Nimitz Marine Facility
Manuel “Nel” Garcia—Police Sergeant (Video)
Resource Management and Planning: Police Department
Tinhtuong “Timm” Nguyentong—Hospital Lab Technician 2 (Video)
UC San Diego Health: Pathology Lab
Leanne Nordeman—Health Professions Educations Specialist 3 (Video)
Health Sciences: Biomedical Sciences Graduate Programs
Brett Pickering—Marine Technician 3 (Video)
Marine Sciences: Scripps Institution of Oceanography Directors Office
David Robertson—Career Services Specialist 4 (Video)
Academic Affairs: School of Global Policy & Strategy
Lindsay Romasanta—Academic Achievement Counselor 4 (Video)
Student Affairs: Student Success Programs
Natalie Wolfe—Financial Analyst 3 (Video)
Academic Affairs: Economics

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