Olivia Cox: Headed to Central State, first in her family to attend university

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

High school was hard for Olivia Cox, but this fall, she will be the first in her family to attend a four-year university as she heads to Central State University

Cox, a Trotwood-Madison graduate, said it took a long time to figure out what she wanted to do. With encouragement from family friend Kortni Alston, she started applying for college when she figured out her purpose in life: helping people with their mental health.

“Really this year is when I figured out what I wanted to do — and wanted to do in my next few years, because I didn’t really know what my purpose will be,” Cox said.

Cox decided to become a therapist after her experiences with her mental health, her mom studying psychology and the experiences of people she knows.

“I just want to help people who are going through some mental battles,” Cox said.

Cox said her freshman year, her mental health was bad. She described herself as “extremely depressed.” Her grades were consistently bad, and she got a few Fs.

While she didn’t get professional help, she was able to get better.

“But I feel like I can help people who were in my situation,” Cox said.

Her junior year, she started getting much better grades. In her senior year, she’s been on Honor Roll every quarter.

“There was definitely encouragement, but I feel like it was me who pulled myself out of that hole,” Cox said. “Because if I’m going to try to be successful in the future, I need to pull myself together.”

She started using checklists to keep track of her work and began being much more careful about turning in her work.

She also became more confident as she got older. She’s always been shy, but Cox said she wouldn’t have been able to talk to strangers just a few years ago.

Cox found a voice in her artwork, as well. She said she’s always loved doing art and continued to create her own pieces through high school. She loves to draw her own characters but has created larger works of art too.

As she grew, her friends pushed her to be better too, she said.

“They’re always there for me,” Cox said. “They’re very, very supportive of me. I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

Cox said Alston pushed her to consider college. Alston attended Central State and Cox knew she wanted to attend after a single visit.

Cox said the food, the fact that Central State is a historically Black university and it’s still close to her family were factors in her choice to attend the university.

Without Alston, Cox said she thinks she would have attended college, but she may not have picked Central State.

“Olivia has shown excellence in all she does,” Alston said. “She is quiet yet a storm and just a wonderful young lady.”

Cox said she is looking forward to being on her own in college.

“I feel so ready,” Cox said. “Like, I’m going to be independent. I’m going to chase my dreams. And hopefully, I’m going to be successful.”

The Dayton Daily News is honoring graduating seniors who overcame challenges in their high school careers. Five students were selected through nominations from their schools, friends and family and will be profiled throughout the week in the Dayton Daily News.

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