Colorado Christian University
Maria Cox

Maria Cox

Student Spotlight

What Inspired You to Complete Your Degree?

I had a long-standing calling to enter the counseling field, yet attending a graduate program was out of reach. When God directed me to see that CCU offered its faith-based, quality program online, I knew He was saying, "Here you go, I made a way."

It did not make sense on paper to add something as big as pursuing a master's degree to our family's life at that moment, but I stepped out in faith. With four children at home, I don't think there's ever a "good" time to tackle something this difficult, but there is a right time. And when the Lord is saying, "Trust me," that's the right time.

Degree Plans

I have a private counseling practice serving the general population of Dodge City, Kansas. In a couple of years, I intend to start working on a Ph.D. so I can be a part of the transformational process of training future counselors.

Valuable Assets

My success at CCU was due first and foremost to God's grace. When I was at the end of my own abilities, the Lord graced me with perseverance to push through and meet the challenges in front of me. This academic, spiritual, and emotional journey was also aided by professors who saw me as a person and not just a name on the class list. Their personal investment in me increased my belief in myself, and inspired me to keep pressing into my personal and professional growth. My cohort was critical to my success, as I was encouraged by a community who shared my passion for the counseling profession, and were quick to carry one another's burdens and provide comedy relief.

Why CCU?

I grew up down the street from CCU and was aware of the strong reputation of the counseling department. It had always been a top choice for my master's degree in counseling because I trusted CCU's foundation of faith and commitment to academic rigor.

Work/Life Balance Experience

Balancing school and other life commitments was a challenging goal — sometimes achievable and yet often it felt like a roller coaster you have to ride until it's done. There were times I had to separate school and real life so I could apply undivided attention to one or the other. In other seasons, I did homework while at my child's basketball game, or sitting at the hospital with one of my parents. More important than achieving balance between school and life commitments, I achieved better balance within myself. I learned to accept that unexpected realities of being a wife and mom do not conveniently co-exist with being the perfect student, and that doing the best I could in the moment was good enough. I learned to extend grace for myself in the midst of a challenging life season, and the importance of taking care of my own spiritual, emotional, and physical needs.

How Did CCU Make it Possible?

The creation of an accredited online program allowed me to pursue and complete my graduate degree in counseling. Learning from home — around the varied needs of my family and schedule — allowed me the flexibility I needed to meet my responsibilities and stay in school.

Most Memorable Experience

My most memorable experiences at CCU both revolve around phone calls. The first was the call welcoming me to the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, about 20 years after I thought I had missed my only chance to pursue this calling on my life. The second phone call was from Dr. Debra Hudson, the dean of my program, inviting me to be the student speaker for Commencement. Each phone call was an overwhelming moment of feeling seen by God and called upon to do something important, and left me profoundly humbled by the opportunity.

Faith Integration

My professors did an excellent job helping me develop a faith-informed lens through which I see my clients and my role in their lives. They also modeled this approach to relationship in their engagement with me as a student. How I relate with colleagues, clients, or strangers has transitioned to a more open-hearted, grace-filled perspective that expects to see the image of God in all people.

Overcoming Obstacles

My time as a student coincided with a number of significant obstacles in my life. We moved into a fixer-upper and worked on our full remodel, as well as remodeled my mother-in-law's home. My grandmother, who was my last surviving grandparent, and the one with whom I was closest, died six days before my first residency. Both of my parents had cancer diagnoses and surgeries, for which I traveled to their respective states and cared for them. One of our children was victimized by a 35-year-old sexual predator. Our daughter and her boyfriend had a baby when she was a junior in high school. Most of these life events were chronic and painful distractions, spiritually challenging, and emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting. My family, cohort, and professors were all instrumental in supporting me in this season. Their help in bearing the burden created enough emotional and mental space to continue with my schooling. God's grace, and the love of others provided me strength to endure. To be noted, having a baby in the house has been a tremendous source of joy and healing for our whole family.

Advice for Prospects

If you are looking for a premier academic community that is equally interested in fostering your personal and spiritual growth, then this is the right school for you. You will leave CCU with much more than a degree in hand. At CCU, you have the opportunity to grow more into the person you are meant to be, as professors and classmates challenge you through meaningful critical thinking, spiritual inquiry, personal reflection, and hands-on action. It is a concentrated season of reevaluating your worldview and self-view, and how those two perspectives come together in the context of your particular profession. I found a safe environment amongst my professors and classmates to explore complex issues and endure the inherent vulnerability of change. Stepping into new understandings about God, myself, and others can feel awkward and insecure, like a newborn colt finding its legs. Yet, I was encouraged to keep leaning into the discomfort of growth, and I left CCU with the priceless gift of a deeper understanding of the heart of God, which enables me to engage in my profession in a manner that has eternal value.

How Affordable Was CCU?

As a graduate student, I relied primarily on financial aid to fund my education. Acquiring the federal loans online, and applying them to my account each year was a very straightforward and quick process. While my particular degree is more expensive than others per credit hour, and it will take some years to pay off my loans, I am beyond satisfied with the financial investment I made at CCU. My experience in the program was in itself worth every penny, and I have the rest of my life to reap the benefits, as will my clients.