SIUE East St. Louis Center Cornell Cox Makes the Grade
For someone who disliked high school and the regiment of schedules, and hadn’t given college serious thought, former Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Center Upward Bound student Cornell Cox is now achieving academic success, having concluded his first semester at Northern Illinois University (NIU) in DeKalb with a 3.3 GPA.
“College is way better than high school,” said Cox, a freshman. “In college, people are more mature, and you have a lot of independence and freedom to pick your classes.”
“I’m grateful that Mrs. (Javonda) Quinn pointed me in the direction of college,” he continued. “I listened to her, because she made sense as it relates to being responsible about my life’s direction and how having a college degree would help me.
“The Upward Bound staff was like family, too,” Cox said. “They taught me manners with the Real Man Rites of Passage program and many other life lessons.”
Cox is considering majoring in engineering. “I participated in a summer STEM outreach program with Upward Bound and learned about engineering,” he said. “I was quite fascinated with it.”
“When I met Cornell, he was incredibly outgoing,” said Javonda Quinn, SIUE ESLC Upward Bound program director. “He had a great personality and sense of humor, but there seemed to be something missing in regards to his pursuit or interest in college.
“After spending time with him in the program and recognizing how smart he was, I knew college would afford him something that many young people do not have the opportunity to experience. He was always eager to learn and willing to help.”
Cox was an Upward Bound EC (East St. Louis High School and Cahokia High School) student from 2012-2016. “I found Upward Bound interesting,” he said. “It was something I could do outside of school without getting into trouble, and it impacted my future in a positive way.”
Cox asserts it was never the work that he disliked about high school, but the social aspects.
“I made good grades in high school and was good in math,” said Cox, who graduated from Cahokia High School with a 3.3 GPA. “I would help my mom with her math homework. She graduated from Southwestern Illinois College with an associate’s.”
“We are all extremely proud of Cornell at the SIUE East St. Louis Center,” said ESLC Executive Director Jesse Dixon. “When Cornell visited us in December after his first semester at NIU, he inspired us with his confidence, optimism and joy. SIUE Upward Bound is providing talented students like Cornell with the opportunities to identify what inspires them, and then find the right college for them to pursue their personal and professional growth.”
“I am excited that Cornell has excelled in his first semester, as I knew he would,” said Quinn. “My hope is that he will continue his educational journey and keep reaching for the stars.”
“I’m glad I’m in college, and I plan to continue on until I graduate,” Cox said. “I know I can do it, and I know I still have the Upward Bound staff to encourage and support me.”
Upward Bound (UB) helps youth prepare for higher education. Participants receive instruction in literature, composition, mathematics and science on college campuses after school, on Saturdays and during the summer. UB serves students from the following high schools: East St. Louis and Cahokia (EC) and Brooklyn, East St. Louis Charter and Madison (BEM).
With a focus on empowering people and strengthening communities, the SIUE East St. Louis Center is dedicated to improving the lives of families and individuals - from pre-school through adult - in the Metro East. Head Start/Early Head Start and a charter high school are among the programs that offer the community renewed hope and an opportunity to reach educational, career and life goals. The Center also assigns first priority to encouraging, supporting and improving the educational success of the residents of East St. Louis and surrounding urban communities. The Center provides comprehensive programs, services and training in the areas of education, health, social services and the arts.
Photo: Cornell Cox receives an award when he was a student in the SIUE East St. Louis Center Upward Bound program.