A special event was held May 12 to celebrate nontraditional students' academic success in Oregon Institute of Technology's Tech Opportunities Program (TOP). The event honored 95 students who achieved a 3.30 grade point average or above in fall or winter terms.

Oregon Tech's TOP powers the potential of first-generation students, low-income students, and students with disabilities who demonstrate academic need. In 2022-23, 165 students participated in TOP. The program's dedicated staff provides services and support in the following areas:

  • Study skills, decision-making, and academic coaching.
  • Academic, career, and financial planning, as well as supplemental tutoring.
  • Peer mentoring and networking with other students, staff, and faculty.
  • College success classes and faculty-led sessions and workshops.
  • Assistance with applying for financial aid, scholarships, and grants.
  • Community building, cultural events, and a sense of belonging.

The average age of Oregon Tech TOP students is 26, and nearly two-thirds are low-income and first-generation students. In addition to challenging coursework, nontraditional students often have partners, full-time jobs, and children to care for. At Oregon Tech, many nontraditional students find support and encouragement through TOP, which provides academic and personal support to help them navigate college.

At the event, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Dr. Mandi Clark recognized students who made the president's and dean's honors list for either Fall 2022 or Winter 2023 term and presented them with certificates documenting their achievement.

Zoé Smiley, Assistant Director of First Year Experience, spoke at the event about her experience in college and her advice for students as they continue this journey in pursuit of their education. Smiley shared the significant impact that her university had left on her and encouraged Oregon Tech students to find similar motivators in their experience. "Take time to seek opportunities in fields and topics that others won't; that's how you'll stand out from your peers," shared Smiley.

Embedded Systems Engineering Technology senior Zach Lor, a featured speaker at the event, shared, "The TOP program helped me realize that I am and will always be the protagonist of my own life." Zach continued to share his unique challenges as a first-generation, low-income student. He said that he struggled at Oregon Tech until he found his community in TOP and will be forever grateful for the relationships he's building.