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TCC sparked love of learning that led to three degrees

Joel Cox could have been a college dropout. Today he’s a Liberty University professor with a message.

“You can do this. I know you can do this!”

He knows because Cox, admittedly once a marginal student, developed an appreciation for learning. Now he holds three degrees and traces his success back to the first one he earned at Tidewater Community College.

“I started at a large university and had no idea how to learn,” said Cox, who graduated from Great Bridge High in 1981. “I tried to engage my professors, but no one would help. They just didn’t seem interested in my success.”

He came to TCC for a second chance and found professors willing to be mentors who would invest themselves in teaching students.

“The turning point for me was my first English class at Chesapeake Campus,” he said. “My teacher saw that I was struggling and encouraged me to keep going. She took an interest in my learning and even challenged me to rewrite my paper as many times as necessary to get that A. I took the challenge and it changed everything.”

Cox graduated from TCC with honors and an Associate of Science in Business Administration. He continued his studies at Old Dominion University and earned his bachelor’s in accounting.

An avid outdoorsman and people person, Cox could not see himself working a desk job. He parlayed his degree into work in law enforcement. His 30-year career in law enforcement included 24 years working for Virginia Beach Police where he rose to precinct lieutenant.

Cox squeezed in two more degrees – a master’s in public administration from Troy University and a doctorate in organizational leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

In 2007, Cox returned to TCC as an adjunct professor in criminal justice and continues to teach online.

“I love teaching TCC students and igniting their desire to be lifelong learners,” he said.

Cox joined the faculty of Liberty in 2011 and now serves as program director of residential and online undergraduate and master’s level education for the criminal justice program.

“From TCC, you can truly go anywhere,” said Cox who advises current students to, “Find a mentor. Engage your professors. Learn how to learn. You can do this!”

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