TU Graduate Wins Marshall Scholarship

Friday, December 10, 1999

    The British government has awarded a Marshall Scholarship to Melissa Ann Cox, a May 1999 University of Tulsa graduate whose career goal is to combat poverty and social inequity through litigation and policy-making, eventually serving in an elected office.

Cox, who spearheaded a housing renovation project in the university’s own backyard while pursuing a double major in political science and economics, is the second TU student since 1997 to receive this prestigious scholarship. This award brings the total number of Marshall Scholarships from Oklahoma universities to three in the last 29 years.

Long regarded as one of the highest undergraduate accolades, the Marshall Scholarship is awarded each year to 40 American students of intellectual distinction who demonstrate the potential to become leaders in their fields. The scholarship covers two to three years of study in any discipline at any British university. The British Embassy in Washington, D.C., announced this year’s recipients on Thursday, Dec. 9.

TU President Bob Lawless said Cox’s selection as a Marshall scholar “is foremost a credit to Melissa, and also a testament to TU’s commitment to providing students with opportunities for leadership experiences and community involvement. Her record of scholarship and service is inspiring. This award will further ensure that Melissa Cox will do uncommon good for the world.”

“I am honored to receive this scholarship and very grateful to those who have encouraged me along this path,” said Cox, 22, a native of Artesia, N.M. “I have many people to thank, including TU professors Jeffrey Hockett, Sujeet Shenoi and Steve Steib, attorney Jane Douglas with the Neighborhood Legal Assistance Program in Charleston, S.C., and all of those who recommended me.”

Cox, who graduated magna cum laude, plans to study for a bachelor of science in social policy and government at the London School of Economics. This top-ranked program will enable her to examine the framing and implementation of policy in social provisions such as health care, education and housing before she attends law school.

“This will be crucial in helping me with my career goals,” she said. “In order to become an advocate for underprivileged people, I will need the skills to critically analyze social policy.”

As an AmeriCorps volunteer, Cox now works for the Washington, D.C.-based National Community Reinvestment Coalition, whose mission is to increase access to credit, capital and banking services in low-income communities. She is coordinating a nationwide loan program developed by NCRC and the U.S. Small Business Administration that fosters entrepreneurship in low- and moderate-income communities. She is also drafting a financial literacy manual on small-business economic development.

Last summer, Cox interned at the Neighborhood Legal Assistance Program clinic in Charleston, doing legal research for consumer and housing cases, and conducting intake interviews. Earlier, she interned at the U.S. Probation Office in Tulsa where she investigated criminal histories and helped draft sentencing recommendations.

At TU, her leadership positions included Student Association senate and cabinet, Government Operations chair, Mortar Board president, Rowing Team varsity member, Tri Delta sorority vice president and Provost Search Committee participant. In turn, she received numerous honors, including induction into Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa, the Medicine Wheel Award for Leadership and Community Service; the TU Alumni Association’s designation of Top Ten Senior and the political science department’s Outstanding Senior award.

“Missy is fearless in meeting academic challenges and in seeking opportunities to put her skills to work in the service of others. It is this rare combination of intelligence and fortitude that make her an excellent choice for a Marshall Scholarship,” said political science professor Jeffrey Hockett.

Cox participated in TU’s Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC) program, which enables undergraduates and high school students to take advanced courses and conduct research with the guidance of top TU professors. She analyzed banking regulations, welfare initiatives and demographic and economic data, and proposed ways of increasing affordable financial services to low-income communities.

TU’s previous Marshall Scholar is Ann Vernon, a 1998 graduate who was also a TURC student. She is now studying at Cambridge University in England. Vernon and Cox were college roommates at TU.

The scholarship is worth approximately $25,000 per year, covering tuition, housing and related costs. The Marshall scholarships were established in 1953 as a British gesture of thanks to the people of the United States for the assistance received after the World War II under the Marshall Plan.

Past Marshall scholars include Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, inventor Ray M. Dolby and author Daniel H. Yergin.