State Rep. Debra Entenman after a Board of Trustees meeting at RTC.
The Washington State Legislature now has another advocate for community and technical colleges in Rep. Debra Entenman. Entenman, chair of RTC Board of Trustees, is a newly elected representative for the 47th District.
In November, she became the first African American to represent the district. “That’s important because it’s representative of our constituents,” she said. “It brings a diversity of thought and a new perspective and how to solve problems.”
A non-traditional student herself, Entenman says she has a community college teacher to thank for her life in politics.
“When my children were starting college, I decided to go back to school,” said Entenman, who had left the University of Washington when she married her husband.
While taking prerequisites at Highline College to eventually become a teacher, a faculty member gave her another idea.
“You are going to be a political scientist,” he told her.
He turned out to be right. She realized she could effect change in education through policy and set out to make a difference. She worked for the Children’s Alliance and the House Democratic Caucus, before going to work for Congressman Adam Smith 12 years ago. Gov. Jay Inslee appointed her to the Board of Trustees in 2015.
“Running for office might have been in the way back of my head,” she said.
Providing access to education is one of her top priorities. She wants to show the value of community and technical colleges in meeting the needs of students and industry.
“Community and technical colleges are a vehicle that anyone can take to put them on a path to success,” she said.
Along with advocating for education, Entenman’s legislative goals include improving traffic congestion and addressing the affordable housing and taxation issues that keep people from owning homes.
What would she say to RTC students other students of color who dream of affecting change in their communities?
“I am not unique,” she said. “You can do what I have done.”
Entenman intends to remain on the RTC Board of Trustees.
“I love RTC and community and technical colleges,” Entenman said. “I consider it an honor to serve on the board.”