Cassandra Telles

Returning to school was not on Cassandra Telles’s radar as she raised two children on her own and worked full time. But when a friend told her about the ASPIRE degree-completion program at Simpson University, she decided to give it a try.

Telles, a Weaverville resident, graduated April 27 from Simpson University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She was one of about 130 graduates, including 30 from ASPIRE, which offers evening and online classes for adults to finish their degree in 12 to 16 months.

“I did not think that obtaining my degree was possible, let alone with distinction,” she said. “However, I found the ASPIRE program to be everything recommended to me and more. This is a decision I will never regret making.”

Telles, 50, had an associate degree from Shasta College and worked for the Trinity County Office of Education when she decided to return to college.

“Being a single parent and working full time made it difficult to do traditional brick-and-mortar classes,” she said, noting a commute from Weaverville to Redding would also have been challenging. “Having always had an interest in psychology, I found that Simpson’s online courses would allow me to pursue my education in this field.”

Even with the flexibility of online classes, Telles was faced with challenges during her time in the program. Her father was diagnosed with cancer.

“This heartbreaking news became a significant personal struggle,” she said. “I needed to be more than just a suffering daughter and bridge the gap for my children and their grandfather. I knew my children were watching their mother handle the situations that life was dealing us.”

The attention of ASPIRE faculty and staff was key in her success, Telles said.

“Many of the professors went out of their way to make sure I not only completed the tasks but had an understanding of the curriculum,” she said. “What makes the ASPIRE program so unique is the attentiveness of all involved — everyone showed a genuine desire to graduate students with full knowledge in their chosen fields of study.”

Telles said she is already using skills she learned in her studies, both in her professional and personal lives.

“I plan on using my degree to advance my position in employment and then to continue my education,” she said.

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