Simpson University Graduate Shares Story on Homeless Panel

For Immediate Release


REDDING, Calif. - A Simpson University graduate was one of six panelists featured at a recent forum on homelessness hosted by Shasta County Citizens Advocating Respect.

The panel was composed of individuals who are or had been homeless; each shared his or her story and answered questions from the audience of about 100 community members and leaders. The event was held at the First United Methodist Church in Redding on Jan. 28.

Crystal JohnsonCrystal Johnson, 35, was introduced to the audience as a recent Simpson University graduate. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology through the School of Adult Studies (ASPIRE) program, graduating on Jan. 23 with distinction.

Nearly six years sober, she now works as a community parent partner and home visitor for the Shasta County Child Abuse Prevention Council. “I’m on the front lines with people who are in the same place I used to be,” she said.

Johnson spoke to the audience about her harrowing years addicted to methamphetamine, from age 15 to 30. After Child Protective Services removed her son a second time, she fought hard to recover.

“I’d had enough,” she said. “I wanted nothing more than to break the chain of welfare and drug abuse.”

Crystal attributes her sobriety to her relationship with Christ—a relationship that sustains and motivates her, she said. After she consistently tested clean from drugs, her son was returned to her, and they moved into transitional housing, where Crystal “was a parent for the first time,” she said.

She enrolled at Shasta College to earn an associate’s degree. “As my time there drew to an end, I started to feel a pull to keep going,” she said. “I had already determined that anything I do to honor Christ is successful, and choosing Simpson was no different.”

She enrolled in the ASPIRE psychology program, attending evening classes, and started working two weeks later. “I was able to apply what I was learning to my work,” she said. “I learned to recognize differences as strengths. I entered thinking I would learn about others, but honestly, I learned more about myself.”

Working while parenting and attending school was a challenge, but “because they are things that I love, it was manageable with prayer,” Crystal said.

In her studies, she learned about the complexities of mental illness, the important of development, and how to integrate her faith and her work.

“I also really enjoyed learning about each instructor,” she said. “As time went on, I realized that they were pillars in the community by day, and super heroes by night.”

Crystal was awarded the Simpson University EOPS/Care Scholarship, given to eligible Shasta College students who participate in the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS)/Care program at the community college.

“Simpson sent staff members to the award ceremony,” she said. “They brought flowers and a card. That gesture made me feel so welcomed and excited to join Simpson.”

Crystal has registered to start a master’s program in science management and leadership this fall. She hopes to eventually work in hospice care.

“I want people to know that good people can make horrible mistakes, and that people can change,” she said.


Photo by Matt Murnan / Crystal Johnson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Simpson University’s School of Adult Studies in January 2016.


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