WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — In the grass by Armstrong Hall of
Engineering at Purdue University is a set of large, cement footprints that
represent the first steps ever taken on the moon.
Freshman Sarah Cox, in a way, is starting her own set of
footprints as she completes her first year of college with a strong finish.
Cox, daughter of Paul and Rachel Cox of Chillicothe, Ohio,
is a pre-agriculture and biological engineering student with a focus on
Her drive for education, extracurricular activities and
involvement with the Navy ROTC all helped her earn the honor of Top Freshman in
the College of Agriculture. Her journey to higher education began at a young
“My sophomore year of high school, I worked for Children’s
Hospital in Columbus in their research institute,” she said.
“I was a research intern. My junior year, I went to Taiwan
for an internship. My senior year, I worked for the (U.S. Department of
Agriculture) in Mississippi as a field intern.
“I studied different natural oils and their defense against
different fungus that cause strawberry crown rot. We applied them to the leaves
to see if they would hurt the leaves or help get rid of the inoculums we added.”
This summer, Cox will work as an environmental intern for
General Mills in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She starts her internship immediately after
completion of final exams.
4-H and FFA were a huge part of Cox’s upbringing, and she
now is a part of many student organizations at Purdue, including Collegiate FFA,
Students Growing Sustainable Communities and Navy ROTC.
Between classes, clubs and friends, she always makes room
for church and Bible studies.
Although Cox was ready to take on college with few
inhibitions, she advised future freshmen to find a close-knit community, such as
the Navy ROTC, to help campus feel like home.
“Being in ROTC makes the campus a lot smaller because I know
people in all three branches, and a lot of them are in the same clubs as me,”
she said. “I can pretty much always see someone I know to say hello to on my
Looking forward, the Navy will play a critical in Cox’s
“For five years after I get out of school, I have a
commitment to the Navy,” she said. “After that, I will probably go back to grad
school or med school. If I go to grad school, I’ll work for a food or
pharmaceutical company. If I go to med school, I’ll be a surgeon.”
Wherever her path takes her, Cox always remembers her
agricultural roots. She is passionate about agriculture and enjoys talking about
“People are clothed and people are eating, so where would we
be without agriculture?” she asked. “Naked and hungry. But also agriculture
plays a huge role in politics, in economics and in international relations.”