REDDING, Calif.—Simpson University freshman Angelina Yang wants to go big.
This 18-year-old dreamer is the first person in her family to go to a university. She’s the oldest of six children born to a Hmong father and American mother. Born in Fresno, she has lived in Crescent City and graduated from high school in Anderson.
And she wants to become a clinical or criminal psychologist.
Two years ago, Angelina heard about a new program being offered at Anderson Union High School called Upward Bound. This federally funded educational program is designed to give first-generation and/or economically disadvantaged students better opportunities to attend college.
“I heard details and believed it was a really great opportunity for me, so I signed up,” she said. “The advisors were super helpful. I wanted help with finding the right college and getting support.”
In 2017, Simpson University was awarded a $5.7 million, five-year grant to administer the Upward Bound program at four area high schools: Anderson, West Valley, Dunsmuir and Mount Shasta. Angelina was one of 47 Upward Bound students from the four schools who have graduated in 2018 and 2019. Of those, 42, or almost 90 percent, have gone on to post-secondary education.
Angelina is the first North State Upward Bound student to choose Simpson University after graduation. She considered going to a community college, but “I wanted to go big,” she said, “so I chose Simpson.”
Angelina was introduced to Simpson through an Upward Bound field trip. Upward Bound advisors arrange for students to visit colleges, museums, and other educational facilities throughout California, as well as helping them with résumés and other life skills to help them succeed after high school. (Though the advisors are employed by Simpson University through federal grant funds, they are prohibited from promoting just one college. Their role is to help students find the best educational fit for them.)
For the past two years, Simpson University has hosted an on-campus summer program for more than 100 Upward Bound students, during which they live in residence halls and eat in the dining center to give them an experience of college life. Angelina said she took classes at Shasta College for her summer program.
The welcome and help she received from admissions counselors and others at Simpson University convinced her this was where she wanted to be. With their help, she applied for and received financial aid and scholarships.
“Simpson has been a great experience,” she said, a few months into her first semester. “Everyone is so positive and gets you involved in everything. There is a great spirit here.”
Angelina has a brother and cousin in the Upward Bound program at Anderson High, and she plans to encourage her next youngest sister to participate as well. “Upward Bound majorly impacted my life,” she said. “I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Her family is excited and supportive about her being at Simpson University. “It really means a lot to them – their first child is going to college,” Angelina said. “Every time I see them they tell me how proud they are of me.”
In 2017, Simpson University was awarded two federal grants totaling $10 million to help boost higher education success rates in Northern California. The seven-year GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) grant serves more than 800 middle and high school students in far Nor Cal. The five-year Upward Bound grant serves area high schools.
Simpson University, founded in 1921, moved to Redding 30 years ago and will celebrate its centennial in 2021. In addition to offering 25 majors in its traditional undergraduate program, the university has graduated more than 4,000 North State adults from its ASPIRE degree-completion program, and nearly 3,000 from its School of Education. It has a No. 8-ranked School of Nursing, a seminary, and master’s programs in counseling psychology and organizational leadership. Simpson University is recognized nationally by Colleges of Distinction.
Simpson is launching new athletics programs in track and field, swimming and diving, women’s wrestling, and men’s volleyball, as well as a bass fishing team. The university is also working to better serve transfer students from community colleges through its commitment to Associate Degree for Transfer agreements, and it is offering new scholarships.