Mighty Oaks Mentor
When he left military life Craig Cox (Sam Houston State University, 2019) thought a chapter of his life was fully closed. “I didn’t think any of that was going to carry over into college, and I was wrong. I’m able to use my prior experience to mentor and help others and Delt has given me the opportunity to help people,” said Cox.
Cox arrived on the Sam Houston State University campus as an Army veteran who had attended a community college and another university. “I didn't know anything about fraternities and sororities. I got out of the military and I was talking to my dad, and I said, ‘Sam's kind of a small school and really if you're not affiliated with a Greek organization there's not as much to do.’”
His father, a Sigma Alpha Epsilon alumnus suggested joining SAE. There is no SAE chapter on campus, but Cox decided to look into fraternities. He met Ross Hyde (Sam Houston State University, 2017), a former chapter president and Frank Mosca (Sam Houston State University, 2012), an assistant chapter advisor. “I got a bid, and I just sat down and met with some of the guys. I really liked them and as I started getting an idea of what brotherhood was about, I got interested.”
As he connected with the Fraternity, Cox decided to become more active serving as house and grounds chairman, sorority relations chairman, sergeant at arms and risk management chairman for the chapter. He is affiliated with other organizations on campus but said none of them mean as much to him as his brothers. “It's been one of the best experiences of my life. Being a non-traditional student and creeping up on 30, I've had the opportunity at 28 years old to mentor younger guys. I've helped with academics, and I've gotten to teach them things vital to being a man. Leading lives of excellence, really and truly.”
As a mentor, Cox found himself guiding his peers in time management. “People want to play video games, they want to go home, they want to sit on the couch and watch Netflix. I was pledge class president, so I said, "Alright, nobody's going do that, we're all meeting on campus and we're going study. We're going to take care of our grades because one of the biggest struggles for my chapter is balancing academics,” said Cox. “It's hard telling a bunch of, especially 18, 19-year-old guys, ‘Hey man, you stop worrying about being cool and getting along with people and being around girls and focus on the number one priority which is grades,’ but end-of-semester grades reflected members’ commitment to academics."
In addition to his chapter commitments, Cox makes a significant commitment to volunteer service through the Mighty Oaks Foundation, a nonprofit veteran organization. One of the founders is a former special operations Marine and Cox did special operations for the Army, so he and Cox clicked right away. “We've been doing martial arts together for a few years and through that, I got to see what the program was about. Eventually, I decided to go through the program myself. I'm in the process of becoming a team leader so that I can go back and mentor other veterans who are struggling,” said Cox.
“We’ve got 22 veterans a day committing suicide and to me, that is a serious problem. I just don't feel right not doing my part to do something about it. The Mighty Oaks program is amazing. The success rate is in the 90th percentile. They've got marriage programs, they've got all kinds of things for vets. And the best part is it's not even just veterans. They help firefighters, EMT, police officers, any kind of emergency medical services.”
The Mighty Oaks Foundation program is completely paid for, so no veteran or family member goes without. In addition to men there are programs for women, not only female veterans but spouses of veterans with no costs for travel, lodging or food. Team leaders lead programs about discipline and hardship, getting past pride and learning how to move into a position where they can be successful in the civilian sector.
“It is a faith-based organization centered around a Christian belief system and mentoring people through Christ and helping people,” said Cox. “The thing I like about it is they don't push it. They just say, ‘There are a lot of problems in day-to-day life that we experience. And a lot of the answers are right here in this book that's a couple of thousand years old. It’s an exciting program. It's a program that I have a very deep, deep passion for. It helped me personally. It helped me serve the Lord in a good way and helped me reach out to people who need help. I really truly believe that part of being a Delt is being an upstanding person, that truly believes and cares for his fellow man, and just being that person, being that model Delt that's going out there and making a difference. And if that's something that I can lead with my chapter, then I'm going to do my absolute best to do it.”
Now in his last semester, Cox will graduate with degrees in political science and history. He is interested in law school or pursuing a master’s degree in business administration.