Oregon Tech welcomed 55 first-year students and nontraditional/transfer students to campus for pre-orientation programs focusing on support systems available and how to succeed at Oregon Tech during the 2021-22 academic year.

The early programs include First-Year Experience Flight School with Housing & Residence Life, SOAR with Student Involvement & Belonging (SIB), and Summer Bridge through the Tech Opportunities Program (TOP). Each program is geared toward a different group of students and focuses on areas of success for each of those groups.

Flight School introduced first-year students who would be living on-campus to one another and began their new community. At the same time, SOAR welcomed first-year students living on or off-campus who are first-generation students, and Summer Bridge focused on success for any nontraditional or transfer students.

Director of TOP Zach Jones believes the journeys these students undertook to Oregon Tech will ultimately help them in their education. “Resiliency, perseverance, and commitment in the face of immense barriers to academic success is a key theme in many of the stories that our TOP students bring with them to Oregon Tech,” shares Jones. “TOP Summer Bridge is an opportunity for our students to power their own potential through community building, resource sharing, and academic success preparation. It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to experience the power of an Oregon Tech education while simultaneously receiving the message that you are welcome and belong here at Oregon Tech.”

TOP is a federally supported TRIO program that continues to work with students throughout the academic year to be successful. Summer Bridge includes academic preparation, access and utilization of campus and community resources, and fostering connections with the campus community, and expands on TOP’s ultimate objective to power the potential of first-generation, low-income, and students with disabilities who demonstrate academic need.

At a breakfast congratulating the students on their successful week, Annmarie Gordon, a new student transferring from Southwestern Oregon Community College, shared, “I’ve been in TRIO since I was in middle school. If I didn’t have TRIO I don’t think I would be where I am today. They have helped me in so many ways that I can’t explain.” Annmarie is a first-generation student accepted into Oregon Tech’s pre-medical imaging program.

Breakfast of Champions 2021

For Thomas Arce, director of Student Involvement and Belonging, this is a gratifying time to get to know SOAR students and support the cohort throughout their Soaring into Success program involvement. “The students are off to a great start with arriving a week before classes begin to gain skills and strategies for getting ready to 'spread their wings' and SOAR into the fall semester as new owls among the campus community,” Arce said. “Student Involvement and Belonging is humbled to partner with students, staff, and faculty to ensure student success is achieved for all our learners to thrive at Oregon Tech, and the SOAR Program is one early example of this goal in action.”

The SOAR Program is a grant-funded program partially sponsored/funded by the Oregon Community Foundation, which bridges an equity gap toward student success, and accessing higher education through (1) SOAR pre-orientation program [getting an extra edge on information to succeed at Oregon Tech]; (2) enroll in leadership and career development course throughout the Fall 2021 term; (3) access to SOAR Peer-Mentors, who will assist in the transition to college; and (4) receive a $500 award to use at the Oregon Tech Bookstore (to assist in educational expenses).

“Coming in as a new student at 24, I was nervous about making connections, but through SOAR, I’ve made a friend who is 18 and one who is 30,” shared Leahgrace Connor. “I joined SOAR to get information about how to be successful and they made it easy to get connected. I met faculty and found common interests with the Dean of Students, Dr. Foley.”

Each of the students who participated in the programs has a level of additional comfort on campus and with their peers as Oregon Tech welcomes on-campus students to the Residence Halls Saturday. While featuring added health and safety precautions, including staggered move-in times, the return to campus is one many students are looking forward to.

All events comply with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.