RTC Commencement Features Outstanding Student Leaders

  • Published Friday, June 16, 2017

RENTON, Wash. – On Thursday, June 22, Joe Spieldenner and Sarra Ghezzaz will take the stage and reflect on their journeys as Renton Technical College (RTC) students and leaders of their communities. Members of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and RTC’s Associated Student Government (ASG), Spieldenner and Ghezzaz have been selected as this year’s commencement speakers.

Just two years ago, at the age of 18, Ghezzaz moved to the United States with her mother. Growing up in Algeria, she dreamed of being a pediatrician or surgeon. She volunteered in hospitals and shelters that served women, children and elderly members of her community.

By her teenage years, people told Ghezzaz that dreams of becoming a doctor were not realistic for young women. “I was called crazy, insane, and a dreamer for wanting to become a doctor,” recalls Ghezzaz. “And because of one bad grade in chemistry, I decided to pursue economics,” she said.

Following her move to the U.S., Ghezzaz decided to again pursue her childhood dream of being a healthcare professional. She enrolled at RTC and took basic studies classes to improve her English and math skills before entering the dental assistant program.

“Being here is my one and only chance to start all over, and becoming a healthcare provider is finally attainable,” said Ghezzaz.

Despite not being a strong student in high school, Spieldenner has more than excelled at RTC. “As I demonstrated in my first couple of quarters, I tended to keep a low profile and avoid challenges that seemed beyond my reach,” said Spieldenner. “That all changed when I began engaging with student leadership.”

Spieldenner is a founding officer of the Beta Phi Delta chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society at RTC and was elected as International Vice President for Division IV, which is one of the top five student leadership positions in the entire society.

As a member of ASG, Spieldenner helped create a textbook access program and a calculator loan program in an effort to make educational attainment more affordable at RTC. He also helped bolster funding for the College’s emergency grant program that provides assistance to students in covering emergency expenses such as bills and transportation costs.

“As I began to engage with student leadership, I started to understand the world and myself on a deeper level. Being a student at RTC put me on a path to becoming a leader and an advocate, a friend and a student, and a person who empathizes with others,” said Spieldenner.

Next week, Ghezzaz and Spieldenner will graduate with honors and associate’s degrees in dental assisting and business, respectively. This summer, Ghezzaz will begin an internship at Renton Smile Dentistry while continuing to pursue her dream of becoming a dentist. In fall, Spieldenner will continue his studies in political science at Columbia University.


The Renton Technical College graduation will be held on Thursday, June 22, 2017 at ShoWare Center in Kent. The ceremony begins at 7 p.m. Nearly 1,200 graduates will take the stage.

For a map and driving directions, click here.

For more information contact:

Michelle Campbell
Executive Director of Institutional Advancement
(425) 235-2352 ext. 2085