First generation OSH senior blazes pathway for others


If you ask senior Jordyn LaPier her motivation behind getting a bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and health from Montana Tech, the story starts and ends with family.

LaPier was inspired to pursue a career in safety partly because of her father’s experiences.

“Dad thinks he can do everything, and hurt himself a couple of times,” she said.

There’s also an element of showing those who come after her that they too can obtain a college degree.

“I wanted to be able to show my younger siblings they could do it, too,” LaPier said.

LaPier is a first-generation student from Butte. She has participated in TRIO, a federal college readiness program since sixth grade. As part of TRIO’s programming for middle and high school students, LaPier visited colleges across the Pacific Northwest. She remembers touring Gonzaga, the University of Montana, and Montana State University.

“It made me want to go to college,” LaPier said.

Theresa Rader, director of TRIO Student Support Services at Montana Tech, helped LaPier’s family complete the FASFA.

“Now my mom knows how to do it,” LaPier said. “My sister is going to Dickinson State University.”

LaPier says the support given to her via TRIO includes free tutoring and a quiet study area.

“It’s nice to have a place to do school work in between classes instead of having to go to my house,” LaPier said. “There’s always someone there to help me.”

The adjustment to college was tough.

“The workload was a big change,” LaPier said. “I was not used to having so much homework and being fed so much information in classes. It was intimidating. I just was nervous. In movies, college is hard, and not like high school, and I didn’t want to be the only one going there.”

LaPier has valuable advice for other first-generation students considering college.

“Use your resources,” LaPier said. “Definitely go talk to the TRIO staff at your high school. Speak up. Don’t be afraid to be the first one to go, especially if it’s something you want to do.”

Once students arrive on campus, LaPier recommends connecting with the TRIO office on campus, where tutors and peer mentors like herself can assist.

“Utilize your professors,” LaPier said. “If you aren’t getting something you need from your professors, ask them to help.”

In addition to studying in TRIO’s space, she recommends using other quiet places on campus to get in study time. As someone working three jobs, LaPier says time management is key.

“I use a whiteboard where I have everything due listed,” LaPier said. “I have a planner on my iPad where I take my notes as well. The study rooms in the library are great.”

Once she graduates, LaPier plans to work in the safety subsection of the construction field.