IAM 751’s Palmer speaks to Renton Tech graduates

RENTON — Renton Technical College graduates were part of something excellent during their time on campus, one of the college’s trustees said in a speech during graduation ceremonies.

Palmer 4cResearch done by the Aspen Institute and Brookings Institution in 2014 showed that “our RTC students are getting the training they need to go into high-paying, high-skill jobs in our communities, and our professors, instructors and staff are doing a fantastic job of helping them stay on stay on track,” said Susan Palmer, an RTC trustee who is secretary/treasurer of Machinists Union District Lodge 751.

“But you don’t need to be part of some high-level think tank to recognize that,” she continued. “Everywhere you go in our community, you’ll find Renton Technical College graduates filling key roles in our local businesses, community organizations and labor unions. Our community needs you – graduates with the skills and motivation you bring – as we continue to build together for the future we will share.”

More than 500 graduates received diplomas and certificates at the ceremony, which was held June 25 at the ShoWare Center in Kent.

The complete text of Palmer’s speech is below:

On behalf of the Renton Technical College Board of Trustees, I’d like to congratulate tonight’s graduates – as well as Dr. Steven Hanson, our college president who is “graduating” into the ranks of retired Americans tonight.

Each one of you here tonight followed a different path. Some of you can look out into this crowd and see your parents, while others of you are looking out to see your own children, some of them grown. For some of you, attending and graduating from college has been a lifelong dream, and for others, it’s an important early milestone on your way to building your future.

The one thing you all have in common, however, is that during your time here at RTC, you’ve been a part of something excellent.

I am very proud – as are all of us on the Board of Trustees – of the fact that our college was a finalist for this year’s Aspen Institute prize for community college excellence. There are slightly more than 1,100 two-year colleges in the United States. The fact that we here at RTC were ranked as one of the 10 best in America by the Aspen Institute speaks volumes about the quality of the students, faculty and programs we have here at RTC.

That’s not all we have to be proud of. This year also, the Brookings Institution did a comprehensive study of which American colleges and universities add the most value for their graduates. To do that, Brookings crunched a bunch of numbers, including average annual earnings of graduates, the percentage of students graduating with skills in science, math and technology and the percentage of students who stay in school to complete their degrees.

Among the four-year colleges, Brookings ranked schools like MIT, Cal Tech and Stanford among America’s elite. And among the two-year institutions, Renton Technical College ranked 13th in America – among the top 2 percent.

These two studies show that our RTC students are getting the training they need to go into high-paying, high-skill jobs in our communities, and our professors, instructors and staff are doing a fantastic job of helping them stay on stay on track.

But you don’t need to be part of some high-level think tank to recognize that. Everywhere you go in our community, you’ll find Renton Technical College graduates filling key roles in our local businesses, community organizations and labor unions. Our community needs you – graduates with the skills and motivation you bring – as we continue to build together for the future we will share.

PalmerRTCGradsOur incoming college president, Dr. Kevin McCarthy, has some big shoes to fill. So do tonight’s graduates, who are following in the footsteps of more than 70 years of outstanding RTC graduates. All of us here tonight face big challenges, which will require hard work and skill if we are to meet them.

But those challenges begin tomorrow. Tonight is for celebrating. Please join me in a round of applause for the Renton Technical College Class of 2015, for what they have achieved during their time here on campus, and for what they will achieve in our community in the years to come.

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at the Boeing Co., District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents nearly 34,000 working men and women at 52 employers across Washington and California.

Check out our award-winning IAM 751 YouTube channel.

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