Petal’s Myla Cox taking her talents to Ivy League

By HASKEL BURNS,

It’s been a great year so far for Myla Cox.

In January, Cox outshined seven other Petal High School juniors to earn the title of Distinguished Young Women of Petal. Now in her senior year, she’s committed to the Ivy League’s Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where she will play basketball for the Brown Bears on an athletic scholarship while studying engineering.

“The atmosphere and the people there really make it feel like a second home to me,” said Cox, who visited Brown’s campus last month. “Just the location, and knowing the school and how great they are – when you go to an Ivy League school, it just makes it that much easier to get a job, and to get the job you actually want.

“I just really liked the coaches and the people, and it seems like a really great place.”

Cox is extremely excited at the prospect of being able to play for the women’s basketball team, which plays its home games at the Pizzitola Sports Center on the Brown campus. The Brown Bears have won six Ivy League championships, winning three outright and sharing the three others.

The team has played in two playoff games to determine the Ivy League bid for the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, winning 72-62 over the Dartmouth Big Green in 1994 and losing to the same team in 2006.

“I really don’t think there’s been anybody from Petal who has been able to get an athletic scholarship to an Ivy League school,” Cox said. “It just feels great to be a trailblazer and be the first to do something, and to represent my state in a good way. So I’m really excited for the opportunity.”

Cox’s win in the Distinguished Young Women of Petal competition earned her a spot in the statewide Mississippi Distinguished Young Women pageant in Meridian, where she competed for scholarships and a spot in DYW’s Life Skills program. The statewide award eventually went to Lori Feng of Starkville.

“It was really fun,” Cox said. “The whole competition itself was really out of my comfort zone, but I made a lot of good friends that I’ll have for life, people that I can talk to about anything.

“I just want to set a good example for girls like me. I want people to look up to me as a respectable leader, a girl that was able to accomplished anything she wanted as long as she put her mind to it and stayed committed and focused throughout the whole process. It doesn’t matter where you come from – you can do whatever you want as long as you put your head to it.”

Cox plans to go into the biomedical engineering field, a decision sparked by her recent ACL injury. While she isn’t sure where she’ll go after graduating from Brown, the school offers several internship programs overseas that are a possibility.

“It really just depends where I am with my major, or if I decide to get my graduate degree and stay (at Brown) or go to medical school,” she said. 

Nicole Ruhnke, director of the Petal Distinguished Young Women program, said the positive impacts Cox has made on the community and the DYW program will be felt for years to come.

“Her enthusiastic spirit, unmatched work ethic and determination to reach new heights and goals have allowed her to achieve far more than she thought possible,” Ruhnke said. “Over the last year, we have witnessed Myla embody the spirit of Distinguished Young Women to be her best self, and as a result, our program and city are better.

“As the first woman of color to represent Petal as Distinguished Young Woman, Myla has displayed her intelligence, her strength, her talents, her ability to communicate, and her kindness in a way that should make everyone proud to know her. Personally, I am so thankful to have grown in friendship with Myla over the last year, and I cannot wait to see her succeed in all she does going forward.”