Kent State Tuscarawas Student Passionate About Mission Work
Kent State University at Tuscarawas junior Nicole Cox has a passion for helping others. Nearly once a year she travels to the country of Honduras in Central America bringing provisions and hope to the residents of Subirana, an impoverished village in the mountains that cultivates coffee. She has been on seven mission trips since 2013, with the most recent one being in January 2018. Nicole’s mission team includes her dad, Todd Cox, her friend, Rachel Foltz, and Rachel’s dad, Jeff Foltz.
Throughout the year leading up to each trip, the Nicole’s team collects Croc shoes, children’s clothing, baby blankets and monetary donations used to purchase provisional packages for the people of Subirana. During the most recent trip, 51 provisional packages and over 60 pairs of shoes were distributed. Nicole’s team works with a local Honduran church that guides them to families in the village with the greatest needs. They always take time to get to know each family and their stories.
“It is inspiring to see the joy and hope that we are fortunate enough to bring to people living in the village” Nicole said. “Through my trips, I have had some life-changing experiences.”
For example, Nicole shared the story of Jessie, a 5-year-old girl with spina bifida, who has especially captured the hearts of her team. Jessie is paralyzed from the waist down and relies completely on her grandmother to raise and care for her. During the most recent trip, Nicole’s team crafted a chair for Jessie to help her sit up straight, taking the pressure off of her back and lungs. The team is also creating a hand-pedaled bike to help her move around her home and yard easier.
They also take time to visit an orphanage that houses around 30 children, most of whom have been officially adopted by the Canadian-American couple who runs it. Most of the children were rescued from neglect or abusive situations and have recovered well, while others struggle as a result of their past – like one child who is blind, deaf and shows signs of having cerebral palsy and another has speaking and comprehension problems because she was living on the streets with little human contact for the first few years of her life before she was rescued.
Additionally, Nicole and her family have sponsored a teenager named Adonis who has lived in the village since 2012 so he could attend school. Over the years, Nicole and Adonis have grown very close and refer to each other as siblings. A self-taught artist, Adonis is extremely talented, and Nicole’s family has many of his drawings displayed in their home. Adonis graduated high school last November with Nicole, her father and her brother in attendance at the ceremony to serve as official witnesses. Next fall, Adonis will begin college in Honduras, majoring in architecture and will continue to be supported by Nicole and her family until he graduates and can support himself.
Nicole is an accounting major at Kent State Tuscarawas and is planning to work as an accountant to support non-profits when she graduates. Because communication has been a focus in her business classes, she is able to communicate with others in sometimes intimidating situations. She feels confident in speaking to the people of Honduras and serves as a translator, both in Honduras and here in the United States.
“Kent State Tuscarawas has given me many skills that I have used while traveling,” she said. “I picked up speaking Spanish through my trips, and I have used the Spanish classes offered at the university to keep the language fresh in my mind.”
Nicole said she is grateful for the opportunity to attend Kent State Tuscarawas while performing her mission work.
“Without the affordable tuition rates, I wouldn’t be able to pay for my trips. I am thankful that I can get a quality education at Kent State Tuscarawas while continuing my mission work.”
Kent State Tuscarawas is located at 300 University Dr. NE in New Philadelphia. Visit www.kent.edu/tusc to learn more.