“You all are the TOP of the TOP,” commented Dr. Foley. “I challenge you today to persevere and finish strong.” Dr. Foley recognized the accomplishments of each individual student, of which 21 were in attendance, but 68 total received honors. TOP is Oregon Tech's TRIO program that offers comprehensive support services to first-generation students, low-income student or student with disabilities. The program currently serves 160 students.
Michal Kawka, program director of TOP, enjoys celebrating the milestones each student reaches. “We’re recognizing those who achieved 3.3 GPA or higher in Fall or Winter,” said Michal. “This is really amazing because we’re looking at students who are the most vulnerable in our community of students and yet they are doing so well.”
Getting through college can be difficult for many students, but non-traditional students face unique challenges that threaten their enrollment every day. In addition to the challenging coursework, non-traditional students often have partners, full-time jobs and children to care for. At Oregon Tech, many non-traditional students find support and encouragement through TOP, which provides academic and personal support to help students navigate college.
Echocardiography student Sheenah Schultz participates in TOP and was honored at the event. After going into remission from bone cancer in high school, Sheenah said that she developed a strong dedication to her studies and commitment to succeed. Sheenah shared, “From my experience, I discovered that I have a passion for learning. I did not know how much I enjoyed school until it was replaced by many weeks of chemotherapy and hospital visits. Even though I was tired and I should have been resting, I still went to school because I did not want cancer getting in the way of my education. Even though I'm not battling cancer anymore, the passion and determination is still with me. I also make an effort to participate in clubs and activities and volunteer on campus. I am part of the Christian Fellowship Club, the ASOIT Rep for the Echocardiography Club, and the Treasurer for the Social Dancing club (we are currently learning waltz right now!).
“The TOP team is very supportive of me in my studies and anything else I might need help with. They are always welcoming and there for me.”
Senior Joshua Allan is nearing graduation with a renewable energy engineering degree and said, “My achievement is due to many factors including having a positive relationship with my professors and my peers, remaining focused on my academic goals, being proactive when completing assignments, and having TOP to provide positive support throughout the way.”
Multiple students at the event completed the term with a 4.0 GPA.
Students can find out more about TOP by visiting www.oit.edu/top.