A special event was held on May 9 to celebrate the academic success of nontraditional students involved in Oregon Institute of Technology’s Tech Opportunities Program (TOP). President of the university, Nagi Naganathan, Ph.D., applauded the TOP students who each earned 3.3 GPA or higher in fall or winter term of this academic year.
“TOP is such as appropriate name for this program because all of you have climbed long and hard to get to the top rung of your personal success story,” commented Dr. Naganathan.
Oregon Tech’s TOP program powers the potential of first-generation students, low-income students, and students with disabilities who demonstrate academic need. The 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, faculty-led sessions and workshops
- Assistance with applying for financial aid, scholarships and grants
- Community building, cultural events and a sense of belonging.
TOP is a federally funded Student Support Services-TRIO program that has been supporting Oregon Tech students since 2001. With a staff of three full-time employees and one-part time staff member, the program annually serves 160 students.
Michal Kawka, program director of TOP, enjoys celebrating the milestones each student reaches. “The average age of our TOP students is 26, and more than two thirds are low income and first-generation students,” said Michal. “The obstacles that they’ve not only overcome, but have shattered is an inspiration to me every day that I get to work with them.”
Vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, Erin Foley, Ph.D., and Dr. Naganathan recognized the accomplishments of each individual student, of which 37 were in attendance, and a total of 85 who received honors. “While some people see an obstacle or a challenge and turn around and walk – or run – the other way, TOP students forge ahead and work very hard to jump those hurdles and move forward to the next stage of your educational journey,” shared Dr. Naganathan. “Each and every one of you has assets that you have personally developed that has allowed you to rise to the place that we are celebrating today.”
While managing a full-time job, home life as a father, and a full course load in Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Technology, TOP sophomore Damien Dahm also became president of the Nuclear Medicine club. Asked to speak at the event he shared, “I believe that part of the college experience is placing yourself outside of your comfort zone where we are challenged the most. And what better way to grow than to constantly challenge yourself.” Damien continued by explaining that TOP became the academic family that he needed to see him through to success at Oregon Tech. “TOP has played a vital part in my success here as a student. Being involved in TOP, we are a family. A family is the people you choose to surround yourself with.”
So far this year, the program has:
- Provided 1,841 individual academic, career and financial literacy advising sessions
- Hosted 6 workshops on topics from financial literacy to networking and career development
- Taught 4 student success seminar classes, including a support class for transfer students
- Conducted a four-day Summer Bridge program for transfer students
- Hosted 10 faculty-led, alumni and industry partner sessions on topics from nano-physics and marketing to self-care
- Implemented 2 peer mentoring programs with cumulative 449+ individual and group student contacts
- Hosted 31 community building events, including two welcome events, two retreats and two cultural trips.
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.