2018 Tillman Scholar

Charles Cox

University of Minnesota

“I strive to bring people’s creative power together to solve problems.”

Charles’s journey to the Army started on 9/11 as he watched the day’s events unfold from his middle school classroom. The attack instilled a deep sense of patriotism and service and he made it his goal to lead soldiers. Motivated by adventure, Charles commissioned as an infantry officer in 2011. After almost five years on active duty, including deployments to the Horn of Africa and Middle East, he transferred to the Minnesota Army National Guard, where he currently serves as a company commander.

An interest in politics and governance led him to pursue a Master of Public Policy degree through the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. He has seen firsthand what America’s foreign policy looks like in conflict zones across the world. Particularly struck by the scale and condition of refugee camps while deployed to Djibouti, he implemented a program so soldiers in his platoon could volunteer at the severely under resourced orphanage during time between missions. His coursework concentrates in national security and diplomacy, with a goal of preventing future conflict.

Charles is passionate about strengthening his community and balances education and military commitments with his work organizing on political campaigns. He is focused on supporting candidates who reflect underrepresented voices and building inclusive coalitions that result in a more just state. After completing his degree, Charles is interested in working at the policy level to address challenging issues from mitigating violent extremism to managing the global refugee crisis.