The Simpson University Experience - Aixa Correa
"I have wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl, and when I came to Simpson, I fell in love with the idea of working in a wilderness setting."
— Aixa Correa, outdoor leadership major, class of 2016
Ever since she was little, Simpson University alumna Aixa Correa has wanted to be an elementary school teacher. In 2012, she enrolled at Simpson and started pursing her liberal studies degree, but she switched her major to outdoor leadership after learning how the program incorporated different educational philosophies with working in an outdoor setting.
“Outdoor leadership connects you to the world around you, to God, to others, and to yourself,” she said.
According to Aixa, one of the things that makes Simpson’s outdoor leadership program unique is its focus on educating the whole person instead of concentrating on the recreational aspects of working outdoors.
“Our program is about human development,” she said. “I have been extremely challenged physically through backpacking and other skills courses, mentally through the rigorous academic classes, and spiritually through the life-altering conversations in my community about materials presented in class.”
Another key component of the outdoor leadership program are the professors.
“The professors have been an essential part of my growth and development here at Simpson,” Aixa said. “They are very supportive and caring as well as challenging.”
Aixa also noted that Simpson was ideally located for an outdoor leadership program.
“You have multiple opportunities to explore the outdoors,” she said. “You have Mt. Shasta to the north, Mt. Lassen to the east, and the Trinity Alps to the west.”
As part of the outdoor leadership program, students are required to do an internship. Aixa interned at a school in Puerto Rico, where she learned about the Waldorf education model by shadowing a kindergarten teacher.
“It was such a wonderful opportunity, and I’m glad I was given the chance to do it,” she said.
After graduating in April 2016, Aixa spent her summer participating in an internship with Adventure Risk Challenge, a Truckee, Calif.-based organization that works with underserved youth by providing integrated literacy and wilderness experiences.
“I have wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl, and when I came to Simpson, I fell in love with the idea of working in a wilderness setting,” Aixa said. “This internship was the perfect opportunity to do both.”
She noted that her outdoor leadership studies “prepared me tremendously” for the position. “My outdoor leadership degree has prepared for me for so many more opportunities that I never thought were possible for me,” she said.
Aixa is considering returning to school to earn her teaching credential and receive further training in childhood education. She is also considering studying botany or horticulture.
“There are so many things I want to do,” she said. “I feel like the sky’s the limit.”
Based on her positive experience, Aixa said she would encourage others to attend Simpson.
“The small community Simpson offers is something everyone can benefit from,” she said. “In a small caring community, people get the chance to grow and develop into the humans they are meant to be. It’s a great atmosphere to be in.”
Aixa received several scholarships, which helped offset the cost of her education.
“I am forever grateful for the generous and kind people that support Simpson students financially,” she said. Without donors, I could not have gone through this amazing life-changing journey.”