Sarah Cox balances school, Navy ROTC and a handful of extracurricular activities with a smile on her face as she finishes her first year of college. The student at Purdue University will work as an environmental intern for General Mills this summer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Sarah Cox balances school, Navy ROTC and a handful of extracurricular activities with a smile on her face as she finishes her first year of college. The student at Purdue University will work as an environmental intern for General Mills this summer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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 pharmaceutical sciences.

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 age.

“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 walk home.”

Looking forward, the Navy will play a critical in Cox’s future career.

“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 it.

“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.”