REDDING, Calif.—Simpson University offered Riley Graham a way to finish her college degree while working full time and maintaining an active life outside the office and classroom.
The Red Bluff resident was one of about 140 students who graduated Jan. 12, including 72 from the School of Adult Studies ASPIRE program. ASPIRE, which offers evening classes, allows busy adults to complete a bachelor’s degree in 12 to 16 months.
Graham majored in organizational leadership, choosing the online option, which was ideal for her work schedule.
“The ability for me to complete a degree in 12 or 16 months was something I could not pass up since I work full time and had to be able to support myself financially while I finished school,” she said. “If it weren’t for this program, it would have taken me twice as long to graduate.”
After high school, Graham attended Shasta College, where she played soccer for two years. She then transferred to Purchase College in New York, where she continued to play collegiate soccer and work toward a psychology degree.
“After my first season there, I had an injury that kept me from playing, so I moved home to finish my degree,” she said. She took more classes at Shasta and started a full-time job at a bank in Red Bluff. She took a full year off school, then started the ASPIRE program in 2017.
“I have a pretty hectic life between work, school, coaching, playing recreational soccer, and making time for friends and family,” Graham said. “The ASPIRE program gave me the opportunity to better myself academically while not taking away from any other part of my life.”
Graham hopes to now get her teaching credential in special education. “The knowledge I have gained in the program will help me better myself as a person and in my future classroom, where I hope to change the lives of students for years to come,” she said.
Though it was challenging to juggle the demands of full-time work and studies, Graham said she learned that “you really can do anything if you put your mind to it. There is a way, though sometimes you have to work a little harder for it.”
She said she would recommend the ASPIRE program to anyone looking to get their degree while juggling other responsibilities.
“All the professors were awesome and so helpful,” she said. “I also had an amazing counselor who helped everything go smoothly. It was a great experience from start to finish.”
Learn more about Simpson University’s School of Adult and Graduate Professional Studies at simpsonu.edu/aspire.
Established in 1921, Simpson is a Christian university offering undergraduate, graduate and teaching credential programs. The university has been in Redding almost 30 years and will celebrate its centennial in 2021. Simpson was named as one of the 2018 Colleges of Distinction and is home to a 2-year-old Veterans Success Center. Academic programs include 25 undergraduate majors, the Betty M. Dean School of Nursing, A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary, School of Education, and School of Adult and Graduate Professional Studies.
Nearly 4,000 North State residents have completed their bachelor’s degrees through Simpson’s ASPIRE program, which offers classes online and on campus during evenings and weekends. For more information about Simpson University, visit simpsonu.edu.