Tapia looked for a program that would allow him to finish his degree as quickly as possible.

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, the Weed High School graduate 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.

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.

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. 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.

Learn more about the adult degree-completion program at simpsonu.edu/aspire.