“I accomplished more than I ever thought I could.”
REDDING, Calif.—Kristi Hokema, a foster mother to just over 200 children, recently added college graduate to her accomplishments, motivated by words she’d often used to inspire her own family.
Hokema, 52, of Redding, was one of 150 students who graduated from Simpson University on April 28. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology through Simpson University’s School of Adult and Graduate Professional Studies.
Hokema initially began her college education in the fall of 1984 at Bob Jones University as an education major. After three semesters, Hokema moved back to California and married her husband, Frank, and continued taking classes at Shasta College.
Time passed, and as the couple began to have kids, Hokema decided to stop her education. At age 50, while helping run the family’s business—Hokema’s Sewing and Vacuum—and now taking in foster children, an event stirred her mind to think of the education field once again.
“As I sat through my children’s college graduations, I realized the importance of getting an education that I had instilled into each of them was now looking at me,” she said. “What seemed like a crazy idea became a reality when I started looking into Simpson University’s ASPIRE program.”
With a simple click and a quick prayer, Hokema applied to finish a degree in psychology.
“I chose to pursue a degree in psychology, thinking this was going to be the best way for me to become a better foster parent,” she said.
Hokema is a foster parent with Shasta County Health and Human Services. She has taken in more than over 200 children during the past 13 years.
“When I was a little girl, I always played orphanage with my dolls,” she said. “I knew God was calling me to take in foster children just like He calls missionaries into other countries.”
Because of Hokema’s dedication to continue being a foster parent, she not only worked a full-time job during her time in ASPIRE, but fostered three newborns as well. This came with its challenges, but Hokema pushed through.
“It was tough, but I did it,” she said, noting that during her ASPIRE studies, her family also celebrated a daughter’s wedding and mourned a father-in-law’s death. “I love my classmates that have become like family to me. I loved my instructors that cheered me on and advised me. I accomplished more than I ever thought I could.”
Hokema said she recommends the ASPIRE program to others “with busy lives and unfulfilled goals. If I can do it, so can they,” she said.
Inspired by her progress, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in education and teaching credential through Simpson University’s School of Education.
Simpson University’s School of Adult Studies ASPIRE program offers degrees in business management, organizational leadership, psychology, and liberal studies. Learn more at simpsonu.edu/aspire.
Photos by Sarah Barrows / Top: Kristi Hokema, third from right, prepares to enter the James M. Grant Student Life Center with fellow ASPIRE graduates during Simpson University’s commencement April 28, 2018.
Simpson University, established in 1921, is a Christian university offering undergraduate, graduate, and teaching credential programs. The university celebrated its 25th year in Redding and the completion of a Science and Nursing Center in 2014. Academic programs include ASPIRE, a degree-completion program geared toward working adults with both on-campus and online course offerings; the Betty M. Dean School of Nursing, A.W. Tozer Seminary, the School of Education, and the School of Graduate Professional Studies. For information about the university, or to arrange a campus visit, call 1-888-9-SIMPSON or visit simpsonu.edu.