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Morgan Cox '21

A Dream Come True

As a kid in rural Kentucky, Morgan dreamed of being just like the UD students who came every year to UD’s Summer Appalachian Program. Having those students believe in her and support her gave Morgan the determination to get there.

Morgan Cox ’21 began attending the University of Dayton Summer Appalachia Program when her mom signed her up at the age of 9. No one had ever gone from UDSAP participant to UD graduate until Morgan made it happen, and it was a trail she was thrilled to blaze.

For more than 50 years, University of Dayton students have traveled to Salyersville, Kentucky, to spend nine weeks living and learning with participants from the rural area located in eastern Kentucky. In UDSAP's most recent iteration, UD students run an outdoor day camp for children ages 5 to 12, a teen center and an activities program in a local nursing home where some residents have few or no visitors.

"In eighth grade I said I wanted to go to UD, and I started to work really hard to make it," said Cox in an interview during her junior year. "Getting to be the first child from the UDSAP program to go back as a UD student, I hope I can be a good example to the children back home that anything is possible. I want to show them that they can do whatever they want in the future with no limitations."

Cox became more than a good example; she became a living inspiration. She was able to attend UD because her hard work earned her a Flyer Promise scholarship. The scholarship removes financial barriers for high-achieving, underrepresented students, and Morgan became a member of the first cohort of Flyer Promise scholars to graduate.

From the moment she stepped on campus, she took that charge to heart and got involved and became a leader in the UD community.

In addition to volunteering with UDSAP as a UD student, she held leadership roles in several organizations on campus to give back to her UD classmates, too. She was active in Campus Ministry, and is now considering a career as a campus minister.

Today Cox still benefits from the program, not necessarily for what she has received, but for what she was able to give back to the communities she has grown with in Salyersville and Dayton. She found a lot of love at UDSAP as a child, remembering it as a space for her to express her true self outside of her family. She also brought a lot of love back to UD, noting that the University provided her with unlimited opportunities for growth and giving back.

What's next for Morgan? She will spend a year with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks before deciding on a future in civil rights law or campus ministry. As she makes this decision, she knows one thing for sure: “I want to let people know that someone hears them — that someone believes in them.

"UDSAP taught me to dream, and dream big," said Cox. "And UD brought me more than I could have ever expected."

Single set of open quotes

We were brought here to change ourselves and to change this campus. It just makes me so proud to be a part of something bigger than myself.

Morgan Cox, Class of 2021

Promising Flyers

Flyer Promise, designed for seniors at partner high schools who are eligible for the need-based federal Pell Grant, provides significant University- and donor-funded scholarship and grant assistance, along with mentoring, leadership opportunities and other supports.

Service in Appalachia

The University of Dayton Summer Appalachia Program comes out of the University of Dayton's Catholic and Marianist, Christian Heritage. It is a heritage of building a strong faith community, sharing prayer together and doing service for others.