Weaverville resident graduates Simpson’s ASPIRE program with honors

For Immediate Release


Tanya Cooper and her children

REDDING, Calif. – On Saturday, Jan. 23, Weaverville resident Tanya Menezes Cooper fulfilled her goal of earning a college degree.

The 46-year old mother of four graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Simpson’s Adult Studies ASPIRE program. Her 4.0 grade-point average made her eligible for Alpha Sigma Lambda, a national honor society for students who receive a GPA of 3.8 or higher.

Cooper was among 156 graduates at Simpson’s winter commencement. The Adult Studies program graduated 126 students, making it the largest graduating class in ASPIRE’s 21-year history. Simpson’s traditional undergraduate program graduated 17 students, while 13 earned their master’s degrees.

In 2008, with only two of her kids still living at home and one getting ready to go off to college, the single mother realized that she was at a point in her life where it was a good time to finish her degree.

“I got married at an early age and had children, so I wasn’t able to dedicate the time to continuing my education back then,” said Cooper. that she was at a point in her life where it was a good time to finish her degree.

Wanting to begin a career in marriage and family therapy, Cooper recognized the importance of earning her degree.

“A bachelor’s degree is almost like a high school diploma now; you need one in order to stay competitive,” said Cooper. “I knew it was what I needed to do to get a good job and pursue a career in counseling.”

Cooper’s family also played a role in her decision to return to school.

“I was the last of all my brothers and sisters to earn my degree,” she said. “It was really important to my dad that all of his kids did well, and that was part of my motivation to graduate with honors. I really wanted to, but I didn’t expect it could happen.”

The 16 months in the ASPIRE program were not easy for Cooper. Just two weeks into the program her dad passed away.

Tanya Cooper

“The Simpson University staff was so supportive during that time in my life, and they allowed me time to grieve. You just don’t get that kind of support from other schools. I have never been to another place that meets the quality and personal attention that I experienced here.”

The Organizational Leadership classes met every other Saturday, allowing Cooper to keep her part-time job at CVS in Weaverville. While balancing homework, a job and a family wasn’t easy, she came up with a system that worked for her.

“My homework was done when my 9-year-old daughter was in school or after she went to bed,” she said. “There were some nights that we’d even do our homework together. My kids are proud of me and I think it was a positive influence on them to see their mom working hard for a college degree.”

In the crowd of over 1,000 people, Cooper had her kids, best friend and mom watch her as she crossed the stage to receive her diploma.

“I carried a photo of my dad with me the whole time. I know he’d be really proud of me,” she said.

Cooper is continuing her education by earning a master’s in marriage and family therapy and plans to become a counselor for women and adolescents.

Simpson University is a Christian university offering undergraduate, graduate and teaching credential programs. Simpson’s academic programs includes ASPIRE, a degree-completion program geared toward working adults in the north state. Simpson’s recent curriculum expansion includes degrees in biology, nursing, outdoor leadership, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology. For more information about the university, or to arrange a personalized visit, call 1-888-9-SIMPSON or visit simpsonu.edu.


Contact: SU Public Relations
(530) 226-4737