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As a leader for Project for Teens, Kate Cox teaches area high school students how to use their "superpowers" — think qualities like respect, courage and compassion — to resist peer pressure and teach younger students to do the same. "You have this whole new generation that deals with things that we never dealt with as teens," Cox told the Mankato Free Press last year. Project for Teens aims to address those challenges through peer-to-peer mentoring that encourages "healthy and responsible decision-making."
Cox, a medical social worker at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, tells the paper that while "these are the exact same messages I'm giving kids every day ... it's so much more effective when it's someone closer to their age talking about their own personal experiences."
Cox, who was recently profiled in the Free Press, seems to have a few superpowers of her own. You might think of her as Wonder Woman — as in, "I wonder how she does it all?" In addition to her work with Project for Teens, Cox is a volunteer with Camp Sweet Life (for kids with type 1 diabetes) and Camp Oz (for kids who have lost a loved one). She's also "helped plan community events" (including the YWCA Leadership Conference), and raised funds for the community by "modeling in the Raw Fusion Fashion Show and competing in the first Dancing with the Mankato Stars." And she and her husband, Chaun Cox, M.D., a family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, have raised funds for Project for Teens through their participation in the Mankato Marathon.
Last year the Greater Mankato Rotary Club recognized her many, many contributions with a Service Above Self award, which honors community members who go "above and beyond in their commitment and dedication to the community and community projects." (Check, and check.)
As an adjunct professor at Minnesota State University–Mankato, Cox is also helping teach the next generation of social workers. While she admits to her students that the field will bring them into "some pretty heart-wrenching situations," she also tells them "it will be the most rewarding career you can choose." She describes social work as "a calling," and it's clear when she talks about her work that she's answered the right call. She loves that she gets to "help kids and adolescents develop coping mechanisms and see them use their inner strength to overcome" barriers that seem insurmountable, she told the paper. "You get to see how resilient kids can be and help them develop their own unique brilliance." We imagine she's doing that with her own kids, too. Cox and her husband have two sons who attend Hoover Elementary School in North Mankato, where Cox is — you probably guessed it — a parent volunteer.
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