Simpson University Graduates Share Co-Honors in Biology and Spanish

For Immediate Release


Kayla Holland and Brooke MejoradoKayla Holland, left, and Brooke Mejorado, right, earned majors in biology and Spanish language and culture from Simpson University. / Photo by Deanna Sloger

REDDING, Calif. - Recent Simpson University graduates Kayla Holland and Brooke Mejorado earned degrees in biology and Spanish language and culture during their four years as undergraduate students at Simpson University.

They were recognized for their hard work in both programs by being named co-Biology Students of the Year and co-Spanish Students of the Year.

Kayla Holland and Brooke Mejorado were named co-Biology Students of the Year

Kayla Holland and Brooke Mejorado were named co-Biology Students of the Year

In order to be selected as Student of the Year, students need to meet multiple criteria including grade-point-average, dedication to their studies, and academic excellence.

“Kayla exudes a bubbly joyful positive personality,” said Larry Siemens, science department chair and assistant professor of chemistry. “Brooke has the brightest smile and is tenacious in her work. The science faculty could not find a criteria where both did not excel.”

Assistant Professor of Spanish Debora Rager said she enjoyed having Holland and Mejorado in her classes.

“Kayla and Brooke have been with me for four years and made teaching fun,” she said. “They are hard-working students who always strive to do their very best.”

Holland, from Redwood Valley, Calif., said one of her favorite parts of being a double major was the support she received from both her biology and Spanish professors.

“I really enjoyed the way my professors across both departments partnered with me in my dreams,” she said. “The faculty always seemed to find a way to allow me to alter my assignments and projects to be applicable to both of my majors.”

Brooke and Kayla visit the Shasta Dam

Brooke and Kayla visit the Shasta Dam

Mejorado, from Manteca, Calif., knew she wanted to eventually go into the medical field, so pursuing a biology major was a natural choice. Growing up in California’s Central Valley made her aware of the need for Spanish-speaking medical personnel.

“I saw the ways the ability to connect with patients in their native tongue led to better care and ultimately to connect with them in a deeper way,” she said. “I wanted to pursue Spanish so that I could seek those connections.”

Earning her Spanish degree also has personal significance for Mejorado.

“I always had a dream of becoming fluent especially because of my Mexican heritage,” she said. “Spanish was not passed down from my grandfather to my dad, and I wanted to revive that aspect of my culture.”

According to Holland, one of Simpson’s unique features is professors who invest time in their students’ lives.

“Across all subjects, this faculty truly knows their students and encourages us by bringing to light the things they see in us,” Holland said. “Some of my favorite moments at Simpson have been visiting my professors in their office for no reason at all other than to talk about life.”

For Mejorado, the community found at Simpson makes it unique.

“I have never been part of such an integrated community like I was a part of at Simpson,” she said. “I never imagined that in college, the place where I went to receive an education, I would find so many encouraging mentors who were incredibly intentional to pour into my life nor did I expect to stumble into friendships where they cared about you so personally.”

Kayla Holland on a WorldSERVE trip to Mexico in 2016

Kayla Holland on a WorldSERVE trip to Mexico in 2016

Holland and Mejorado were very involved in student activities. Holland went on four short-term student-led mission trips through Simpson’s WorldSERVE program, served as a WorldSERVE student assistant, a resident assistant (RA), a lead RA, and Biology Club president, participated in the Student Research Symposium twice, was a member of the women’s soccer team for two seasons, and participated in service projects through Simpson’s Strike Teams program.

Mejorado went on a WorldSERVE trip to Chicago, was Biology Club president and vice president, served on student activities board for two years, and was a member of the women’s golf team for three seasons and the women’s basketball team for one season.

Brooke golfing at Running Y ranch in Oregon in 2015

Brooke golfing at Running Y ranch in Oregon in 2015

After living on campus for three years, Holland and Mejorado decided to move off campus and be roommates.

“I feel like figuring out life is something that is better done with a best friend by your side,” Holland said. “It’s so good to get to share perspective and thoughts and awkward situations and confusion with your classmate-roommate-bestie-coworker.”

Mejorado shared Holland’s sentiments.

“Together we got to grow in our faith, face and overcome adversity, develop our friendship and watch it flourish, and simply enjoy our time at Simpson together,” she said.

Holland’s summer plans include going to the Christian and Missionary Alliance’s Envision Conference in New York City, working as a spiritual development coordinator at a Bible camp, and backpacking through Europe. Some of her other goals include working in the emergency room and learning about health care inequality and injustice in Redding, pursuing a master’s in global health, and applying to medical school.

Mejorado will spend three weeks of her summer on a WorldSERVE trip to Taiwan. After she returns, she plans to work in the emergency room at Shasta Regional Medical Center to gain clinical experience before continuing her education to become a physician’s assistant.

She hopes to use her degrees to serve low-income or rural patients as a physician’s assistant. “Often in these areas, and especially in California, many patients will speak Spanish and I plan to use my Spanish as a tool to connect better to them and offer them quality care,” Mejorado said.

Holland plans to use both her biology and Spanish degrees to work as a physician in Latin America. She wants to work with long-term missionaries serving in Latin America by providing sterile, quality healthcare.

“Simpson provided me a place to prepare my heart and mind for this type of missionary lifestyle, as well as encourage me in my endeavors for further education,” she said.


Photos courtesy of Kayla Holland and Brooke Mejorado


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, including degrees in psychology and organizational leadership. For information about the university, or to arrange a campus visit, call 1-888-9-SIMPSON or visit


Contact: SU Public Relations
(530) 226-4737