Social work

Hard Work, Determination Pay Off as Students Prepare for Graduation

June 10, 2012

Media Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler • • (818) 677-2130

Terriel Cox, Master’s in Social Work

Terriel Cox, Master's in Social WorkTerriel Cox lived in 11 different foster care homes and attended five different elementary schools by the time she was 11-years-old. Her father was not in her life and her mother was an alcoholic who struggled with substance abuse.

The native of San Diego said she could have been one of the hundreds of youth in California’s foster care system that never go to college but a social worker changed her life. When Cox first arrived at Cal State Northridge in 1998, she began a mission to help young people like herself who have been raised in the foster care system.

That’s why the 30-year-old will graduate this month with a master’s in social work and be honored with the prestigious Nathan O. Freedman Memorial Award for Outstanding Graduate Student. She will be among several students recognized during the university’s Honors Convocation ceremony at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 23. The award is presented to a CSUN graduate student who shows the best record of distinguished scholarship, has a minimum GPA of 3.5 and has made significant contributions to their field of study.

Cox has a 3.83 GPA. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Northridge in 2003.

“My goal is to be a support and provide those aftercare services to foster care youth when they are emancipated,” Cox said. “I want to let them know that they too can achieve their dreams.”

Cox credits much of her success to CSUN’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). She was a “special admit” student and attended the Summer Bridge transitional program the summer before starting college in 1998. She said the staff in EOP supported her “emotionally and academically.” She has served in several leadership positions on campus and in the community. She was a resident advisor and received the Resident Advisor of the Year award, the University Village Apartments Team Leader Award and Best Mentor Award. She has helped pilot Northridge’s EOP Resilient Scholars Program, which provides support and assistance to college students who have been emancipated from the foster care system.

“California State University, Northridge has taught me that I can be an agent of change, and I can make a difference,” said Cox, who upon graduation, will work for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services as a social worker.

Cox is among several graduate students who received prestigious awards this year. Four graduate students have been selected to receive the Association of Retired Faculty Memorial Award. The award recognizes and provides financial support to graduate students for excellent scholarship and creative activity. The award will support a project that is part of a master’s program. The determining factors for the award are based on a record of distinguished scholarship, a minimum GPA of 3.5, and contributions to the field.

Cox will take part in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences‘ ceremony scheduled for 8 a.m. on Tuesday, May 24, on the lawn in front of the Oviatt Library.