In a show of support for first-generation students attending Oregon Tech, the university participated in the nationwide First-Generation College Celebration the week of Nov. 6.

“On November 8, 1965, President Lyndon Baynes Johnson signed into law the Higher Education Act as a means to combat poverty in the United States,” said Tammie Retherford, Director of the Tech Opportunities Program (TOP) at Oregon Tech. “We celebrate first-generation week to raise public awareness, recognize personal effort, provide comradery and support, and celebrate success. For myself, first-generation means an opportunity to change the trajectory of one's own life and the lives of generations to come.”

First-generation college students are those whose parents or legal guardians have not completed a bachelor's degree. Approximately 36% of Oregon Tech students fall into this category, a significant source of pride for these students and their families.

To recognize the week, the Tech Opportunities Program (TOP), a student-focused program that powers the potential of first-generation students, low-income students, and students with disabilities, organized a week of events to honor first-generation students, faculty, and staff under the theme "Celebrating the Power of First.” An addition to this year's celebration was a live interview series with first-generation students, staff, and faculty in collaboration with Oregon Tech's student-run radio station, KTEC 89.5.

These interviews delved into real-life experiences, addressing first-generation college students' unique challenges, complexities, personal growth, and accomplishments. They were broadcast live and recorded for future listening. The interviews are accessible at

The activities concluded with a First-Generation Dinner Nov. 9, which opened with a land acknowledgment by Heather Wisener, Title VI Coordinator for Klamath Falls City Schools. Andrew Biggs, Ph.D., Klamath Falls City Schools Board of Education Member Zone 2, provided the keynote address to students, encouraging them to keep learning and, when opportunities arise, grab them. “Here [at Oregon Tech] is your formal education, but your education in life never ends,” Biggs shared.

To learn more about the First-Generation College Celebration, please visit