Trying to navigate without a map can be what it feels like for a first-generation student who decides to pursue higher education. In support of those students who are the first in their families to attend college, Oregon Tech participated in a nationwide event, First-Generation College Celebration, on Nov. 8.

First-generation college students are those whose parent(s)/legal guardian(s) have not completed a bachelor's degree, so they are first in their families to attend a four-year college/university. Being first-generation is a very proud accomplishment for students and their families. Campus members picked up free shirts noting their first-generation status or their support of first-generation students. Celebrating the Power of First, the campus was awash in first-gen and supporter t-shirts on Nov. 8 as the campus celebrated the event together.

Nearly 37 percent of Oregon Tech students are first-generation students. Oregon Tech president, Dr. Nagi Naganathan, shared, "First-generation students comprise a population that is truly diverse and deserving of acknowledgment. Each with their own rich and unique backgrounds leading them to be the first in their family to attend college, they now have the chance for opportunities that they may have never had before."

Skoty speaking at dinner
Skoty Trautman, senior

The events culminated in a First-Generation Dinner on Nov. 9. A first-generation student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Oregon Tech, senior Skoty Trautman shared, "For me, just because you’re the first doesn’t mean that you have to do it alone. Being the first in my family to attend college, I didn’t know about all of the resources available to first-generation students such as TOP. From my time at Oregon Tech, I’ve learned to accept what I don’t understand and seek the support I need in order to be successful. Our stories carry immense power, and they help us adapt and persevere through all of the challenges we face."

The celebration was sponsored by the Tech Opportunities Program (TOP) and Student Involvement and Belonging (SIB).

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