Redding Woman Overcomes Challenges to Earn Simpson University Degree

For Immediate Release


REDDING, Calif.—Hortensia Vera celebrated her 38th birthday on Jan. 19, the day before she graduated from Simpson University’s School of Adult and Graduate Professional Studies, ASPIRE degree-completion program, with a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership.

“Graduating was my birthday gift to myself,” she said.

Vera, a Redding resident, was among approximately 125 students who participated in Simpson’s winter commencement ceremonies on Jan. 20.

Vera decided to return to school and started taking classes at Shasta College in Redding in 2010 in order to keep a promise she made to her brother, David, who was murdered in 2007. In addition to going to school, Vera worked at Target and in the after-school program as a group leader for third- and fourth-graders at Buckeye School of the Arts.

When Vera started the ASPIRE program in 2014, she enrolled in the on-campus organizational degree program, where she attended evening classes once a week.

“I chose Simpson because of the feeling I got when I stepped on the campus,” she said. “Simpson just ‘felt right’ for me.”

Due to life circumstances, Vera finished her degree through the online organizational leadership program.

“I really enjoyed the flexible schedule that ASPIRE offers,” she said. “Both online and face-to-face classes are enjoyable because as returning students most of us have work and lives that we are living while trying to go to school.”

Vera faced multiple difficulties during her time in the ASPIRE program. She frequently traveled to Fresno, Calif., over a two-year period to attend the court proceedings regarding her brother’s murder.

“Once the case was closed and my family and I received the justice we so desperately needed, I was able to refocus my energy back to becoming the student I knew I was meant to be,” she said.

Shortly after the trial ended, Vera suffered from health issues and had to undergo surgery and recovery, which forced her to take some time off from school.

Even though she faced challenges, Vera said her faith was restored during her time in the ASPIRE program.

“I was at a low point in my life when I first started Simpson,” she said. “After continuous praying and keeping my faith that I was in the right place God wanted me to be, I was able to look at my life in a new way. I knew when I first stepped onto the Simpson campus I was in the right place. I know that God had a better plan for me than I had for myself.”

Vera said she would recommend the ASPIRE program to others who are considering completing their bachelor’s degree.

“The courses are challenging yet so rewarding,” she said. “The entire ASPIRE staff is friendly and knowledgeable in their respective fields. They are also very encouraging and easy to talk to.”

Vera chose to pursue a degree in organizational leadership because it fit with her goal of becoming a high school coach. Her degree is already making an impact on her life. She is working on the necessary certifications to become a Spanish teacher at a local high school.

- Article by Elise Wilson




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