Kyle Cox ’18, a senior political science major from El Paso, Texas, plays many different roles on the Texas A&M University campus. You may find him playing his euphonium in the Aggie band hall, in the Koldus Building working on a bill for the student senate, drinking coffee at the Hullabaloo Starbucks, or cheering the Aggies on in Kyle Field.
Kyle developed a love for Texas A&M at a young age from his mother Kristen Cox ’83. He grew up believing there was no other university for him, but the journey to College Station has not been easy.
He was born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a progressive muscle degeneration disorder, but this has not kept him down.
Kyle is not one to let opportunities pass him by. His sophomore year he joined Beta Upsilon Chi (BYX), a Christian fraternity founded in 1995.
“It has given me a network of people to get involved with and really get to know. I love all the guys in that fraternity. Whenever there is a need, I can rely on them and they build me up.”
Since his sophomore year, Kyle has been involved in the Student Senate. As chairman of the Disability Subcommittee, he works to ensure inclusion of students with disabilities.
He has played the euphonium in Texas A&M’s Symphonic and Hullabaloo bands since his freshman year.
“I’ve played this instrument for about 12 years, and I am really passionate about band. DMD is a progressive disease, and my lungs are now at 24 percent breathing capacity. Doctors tell me to stop playing the euphonium because they are afraid it could worsen my condition, but I do not plan to give it up anytime soon. For me it is a battle of quality of life versus quantity of life.
While his personality and heart are bigger than Kyle Field, he was indeed named after Texas A&M’s famous football stadium (named for Edwin Jackson Kyle, who served as the university’s dean of agriculture and athletic council president).
“My dad David wanted me to be a David Jr., but my mom wanted another ‘K’ name since my two older sisters are Kaitlyn and Kimberly. Since she is an Aggie, Mom naturally suggested Kyle. Dad liked the name and agreed to it. At the time, he was not thinking about the football stadium, especially since he attended t.u. A couple of years later, Mom and Dad were talking to some friends, who asked if they named me after Kyle Field. Dad looked at her and said, ‘No. Please say you didn’t!’ That is when my Mom admitted to my Dad that she named their son after Kyle Field. And here I am!”
Change at Texas A&M
“Texas A&M has made me a more outgoing person, that’s for sure. In high school, I was shy and did not talk to anyone. I mostly stuck to myself and was little scared to talk to people. Texas A&M has given me the chance to be involved in so many different roles; I have become more outgoing and willing to talk to new people. BYX fraternity rush really forced me to put myself out there because I had to do 50 interviews in 10 weeks, giving my testimony over and over again. I could not be afraid to be vulnerable. I started getting even more involved during my sophomore year, which was really a defining semester for me.”
Leadership positions in several student organizations have helped Kyle grow into the person he is today.
“I put myself out there, and it pays off. If you put yourself out there people will see you as a leader.”
Quote to Live By
“It’s not the disability, but the ability. Put the person first instead of the disability. For example, a person with autism is not an ‘autistic person.’ A person with Down syndrome is not ‘a Down syndrome.’ In addition, a person who uses a wheelchair is not ‘a disabled person.’ The disability may be part of who they are, and they probably embrace it, but it does not define them completely.”
Quality vs. Quantity
“When I was diagnosed the doctor told my parents I would not live to see 20, and now I’m 22. For me it is hard to look beyond the scope of a couple of years. When I first got to Texas A&M, I just hoped I could stick around long enough to get my ring. Then I got my ring and began to focus on graduation. I graduate in May, so now I’ve set my sights on graduate school.”
By focusing on one goal at a time, Kyle lives a full life and continues to shock doctors with how well he is doing.
“By this age, most people with DMD show a lot of scarring on the heart, but there is no scarring on my heart, and doctors can’t figure out why my heart is so strong.
My faith plays a lot into this. I know my purpose in life is to glorify God in everything I do. I just try to be a reminder to people that, despite your circumstances in life, there is always somebody that has it worse than you do. Just enjoy life.”
Surprise Road Trip
Kyle enjoys traveling and hanging out with a great group of friends at Texas A&M. Recently, his friends surprised him with a road trip of a lifetime.
“My friends starting planning this road trip about two months before it actually happened, but they wanted to keep it a surprise. Honestly, I do not know how they kept it from me. I did not find out until the day an RV pulled up in front of my house.
The original plan was to drive to Los Angeles to meet Johnny Manziel and to sample the best barbecue places along the way (since it is my favorite food). But just before they surprised me, my hometown friend Elizabeth asked me to take her to prom. Having no idea about the trip, I said yes and told my mom we had to drive to El Paso. When my friends realized I was going to prom, they scrambled to reroute us through El Paso so I could take Elizabeth to prom.
So it was seven guys in one RV for five days.”
During the road trip, Kyle and his friends created some remarkable memories, from losing money at a casino, trying to eat a 72-ounce steak in an hour, to falling overboard while white water rafting—and of course getting Kyle to prom on time!
Kyle Goes to Prom: The Movie
To raise awareness and funds for DMD research, Kyle’s friends documented the trip on video, which they have yet to finish. Once they raise $100,000, they plan to release the movie in hopes to inspire others through Kyle’s story.
Kyle plans to use his political science major to serve as an advocate for people with disabilities in the areas of education, transportation, and medicine. After graduation, he plans to attend the Bush School of Government and Public Service to study public administration and public policy analysis.
Story and photos by Athlyn Allen’ 19
Division of Student Affairs