Nov. 5 was election day, but it was also the birthday of an important woman in the Renton Technical College (RTC) community that passed away two years ago. Her work with the RTC and her passion for students lives on in the newly named Andee Jorgensen Student Success Center.
Jorgensen was the longest serving trustee for RTC, appointed by several state governors. She also served on board of the RTC foundation. The Wagner family, including her husband Rich Wagner and son Damian Wagner, along with Dr. Kevin McCarthy, present and former trustees and present and former RTC Foundation Board members attended the celebration of Jorgensen’s legacy and naming dedication at Renton Technical College.
The center’s dedication includes her name outside and within the center, a plaque honoring and explaining her involvement at RTC, and a welded art piece of a dragonfly, a symbol that was important to Jorgensen. Welding Instructor Rick Geist worked with his students to create the intricate artwork out of metal, using laser cutting and water jet technology.
Executive Director of RTC Foundation Carrie Shaw said Jorgensen captured her heart with her passion for students, and taught Shaw about civil leadership through example. Dragonflies were a special symbol to Jorgensen, both from growing up as a little girl watching dragonflies jump on lily pads at Lake Cavanaugh in Skagit County, and them being a universal symbol for change and new beginnings, which is what Jorgensen admired in students.
“It was a perfect symbol,” Shaw said.
Rich Wagner spoke about Jorgensen’s start of her career, having to push through a world dominated by men. But her real passion was community service, involved in not only RTC but Renton Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce board, Renton Area Youth Services (RAYS) and Renton Civil Service Commission.
RTC Trustee and Jorgensen’s former pastor Kirby Unti talked about Jorgensen’s love for the students, her family and her memorable bright red hair, crystal blue eyes and radiant smile. She was always the first to greet him at Rotary Club with a bear hug, he said.
“She knew what it means to love those who aren’t always welcome, and come together as a fellow companion on this journey of Earth. She worked overtime to make the community kinder and see the value of every child, and every person,” Unti said. “Andee, thank you for making a difference in this entire community, and especially in this sacred place.”
Her legacy is remembered by more than those at this center. She knew the value of scholarships, carefully reviewing the scholar applications each year, Rich Wagner said. A scholarship in her name, Andee Jorgensen Endowment for Student Success, supports students like Laura Bautista-Silva, who attended the ceremony. She is studying as a medical assistant with plans to be a registered nurse in honor of her grandfather, who lived in Mexico and died while the nearest medical facility was two hours away from him.
When the Wagner’s first heard about this honor, they teared up, Rich Wagner said. During his speech at the naming dedication he choked up, and most in the room did too.
“Many of us accomplish much through this life quietly, silently. Not knowing if anyone ever notices,” Wagner said. “Today, we stepped over that threshold. You’ve given us, and Andee Jorgensen, an amazing, unforgettable honor.”
Attendees then received a tour of the dedications in the center.
More information on RTC is available at rtc.edu.