REDDING, Calif.—Siskiyou County resident José Tapia found his career path right out of high school.
Hired as a part-time Spanish teacher at Golden Eagle Charter School in Yreka, he knew he needed further training and a college degree to pursue the work he loved. He enrolled at College of the Siskiyous in Weed—where he was born and raised—and earned an associate’s degree in May 2018, while continuing to teach.
Tapia looked for a program that would allow him to finish his degree as quickly as possible. Simpson University’s adult degree-completion program (ASPIRE) gave him the option to teach during the day and take classes one evening a week for 12 months. He was also able to do most of his schoolwork online.
“It is a great program,” he said. “Right from the beginning, when I was inquiring about it, staff members were very generous, knowledgeable and easy to talk with.”
Tapia was one of 130 graduates to walk the stage Jan. 11 at Simpson University’s commencement ceremony for summer and fall graduates. He earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies – “it fit the path to becoming a teacher,” he said.
The degree-completion program also offers degrees in business management, psychology and organizational leadership. An online option is also available for psychology and organizational leadership. Programs can be completed in 12 to 16 months.
Tapia found the course structure—one class at a time for five weeks—made it easier to concentrate as well as to complete coursework.
“It was also rewarding because the class size is small groups, and all my classmates were future teachers just like me, focusing intensely on the subject that was being covered,” he said. “I also liked the one-on-one communication with each instructor.”
His greatest challenge was making the commute each Thursday evening. “Redding is only about an hour and fifteen minutes from Weed, but going there for a four-hour class and then driving home late at night was definitely a challenge, especially when it was pouring rain, extremely windy, and sometimes snowing,” Tapia said.
But the benefits far outweighed the challenges, he said, noting that his degree will help him get into the teaching credential program at Humboldt State University, where he wants to obtain a teaching credential with a focus in Spanish.
“I also plan on getting a master’s degree in Spanish right after that, if God permits,” he said.
While Simpson University doesn’t require its students be Christian to attend, the university is unapologetically faith-based. For Tapia, that was a bonus. “Attending a Christian-based university helped me revive my love for Christ even more,” he said. “I lead a youth group at my church, and my Simpson instructors inspired me in ways I was able to bring to the group.”
Learn more about the adult degree-completion program at simpsonu.edu/aspire.
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 has 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.