The Faith and Dreams of Alexcia Cox ’02
Above, Alexcia Cox ’02 was a standout at UCF while studying in the Nicholson School of Communication and Media. A Burnett Honors College student, Cox is grateful for the many opportunities that UCF offered.
For nearly two decades, Alexcia Cox ’02 has been pursuing justice for victims of domestic violence in Palm Beach County. In her role as Deputy Chief Assistant to the Palm Beach County State Attorney, Cox is passionate about the grueling, heartbreaking work that she and her equally committed team are tasked with daily.
“As soon as one case closes out,” Cox says, “There are five to ten other cases right behind it.”
That’s just the reality of her job, she says. A limited number of attorneys, and an unlimited number of crimes. Her unit brings in approximately 4,000 misdemeanor and felony cases a year.
Palm Beach County Beginnings
A Palm Beach native, Cox’s determination and willingness to tackle difficult situations began very early in her life.
“I have always been very driven” Cox says. “I was that child who knew exactly what I needed to do and did not have to be nudged by my parents. Even when the time came to prepare for college, I knew where I wanted to go and what I needed to do to get there. UCF was the only school to which I applied.”
Prior to her time at UCF, Cox had been accepted into Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach. Suncoast is a magnet school that is recognized as one of America’s best high schools nationally. Cox was an honors student at Suncoast while also singing in the school’s chorale and writing articles for the newspaper. She even volunteered as a statistician for the basketball team.
During her junior year at Suncoast, Cox also became a mother.
“I would attend high school during the day and work at Sears after school until about 10pm,” Cox says. “I would come home, eat something, make bottles, do my homework, and get my son’s bag ready for daycare.”
Cox’s parents would pick her son up from daycare; she had her circle of friends who also helped, and it was the same routine, day after day, over and over.
“It was not easy, but it helped build my resilience,” she says. “I was determined”
“And even though I was still trying to figure it out as I was going through it, I knew my present circumstances would not prevent me from achieving my goals. Nothing was going to stop me.”
Through it all, she also knew that she would be going to UCF, somehow.
UCF Decision Influenced by Her Cousin
“I knew I had a bright future ahead of me,” Cox says. Her cousin, Yolonda Gaskin ‘02, had graduated a year ahead of Cox from Suncoast and had gone on to UCF. Cox visited her at the campus, and recalled thinking, “I really like this school.”
At the time, UCF representatives were heavily recruiting high school seniors to the university; Cox attended one of the information sessions, and because of her stellar credentials, was admitted almost immediately. Boom. Mic drop.
After her admission, Burnett Honors College reached out to her and offered her a scholarship. That, in addition to the services that BHC offered – especially a computer lab; Cox did not have a personal computer at the time – made her decision easy.
“Back then, the Burnett Honors College was definitely a hub for aspiring student leaders and for people who were really focused on their academics. I took full advantage of the resources they provided. I would spend time in the campus math and writing labs and if I ever needed help with anything, I knew this was a place that would provide it.”
Moving Forward Through Faith
With the support of her parents, she made it work. They helped her raise her son while she pursued her college degree. Cox knew that she not only had a personal duty to make things work for her dreams, but also to honor the sacrifices her parents were making, and set an example for her son. She wanted to do all she could to provide the best life for him.
“It was a time in my life to completely attach my faith to my dreams,” Cox says. “Even at a young age, I was a person of faith.”
Because of her drive and familial support, Cox was also able to immerse herself into campus life.
“I sang in the UCF Gospel Choir, and through that experience, we went to different church programs, and I met a lot of people in the community that way,” Cox says. “I was president of the African American Student Union (now Black Student Union), and a member of the President’s Leadership Council.”
Cox also was a member of the John T. Washington Honor Society, the Golden Key Honor Society, the 2001 Homecoming Court, and she pledged the Mu Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the first Black Greek-lettered organization on UCF’s campus.
“I was initiated into that chapter almost 23 years ago,” Cox says. “We are all still very close. We keep a very strong connection with the new members of the chapter at UCF, as well.”
In her senior year at UCF, Cox (below, standing next to President Hitt) was a recipient of the Order of Pegasus, the most prestigious and significant award that a UCF student can receive.
Cox also worked at the Financial Aid Office as a part of the work-study program. “Scholarships and work-study helped me pay my way through college,” Cox says.
Destined for Success
“Although I did not know what my future held, I knew I was destined for success. I’m a firm believer that with God, all things are possible, and that was what motivated me to excel.”
There were tough times, of course. There wasn’t anybody guaranteeing Cox that she would make it. But she always had people surrounding her who believed in her and encouraged her. That support informed and inspired her journey to reach her potential.
By her junior year, Cox knew that she was going to become an attorney. There wasn’t one event that directed her decision; rather, it was the sum of all the experiences she had amassed from her time at UCF. She started preparing for the LSAT.
Cox graduated from UCF in May 2002, but continued working at the financial aid office until law school started at FSU in August. There, she continued her habit of immersing herself in all that the campus had to offer.
“When I had initially decided on law, I told myself I was going to become an international sports agent and focus on baseball, soccer and boxing.” Cox says. “I was nearly fluent in Spanish, and I thought I would enjoy it. And then, when I was at FSU, I learned more about the field, and ultimately decided it was not a good fit for me.”
Cox began “trying on” other aspects of the legal field, including employment law, constitutional law, and criminal law and litigation.
What piqued her interest, however, was FSU’s criminal law clinic.
“After completing the prerequisites for the clinic, I interned at the State Attorney’s office in the Second Circuit,” Cox says. “I was placed there to do my internship, and I loved it.”
Under the supervision of a licensed attorney, Cox was the lead “attorney” for two criminal trials where the defendants were charged with misdemeanors. One was a battery case, and the other involved a person who was doing construction projects without a license.
“I won one and lost the other one,” Cox says.
But her takeaway was that she loved working on behalf of the people, and the work that she was doing made her feel “really good.”
As fate would have it, at an FSU job fair prior to her graduation, Cox applied to for a job at the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office.
“It was the perfect choice,” Cox says. “It was such a great honor and a blessing to be able to return to the place where I grew up and serve my community.”
In a relatively short time frame, Cox passed the Florida Bar exam and the next week hit the ground running at her office.
“I started in the domestic violence unit,” Cox says. “I prosecuted misdemeanor domestic violence cases.”
It was there that she developed a passion for domestic violence, dating violence, and family violence cases. Cox rose to the position of Chief of the domestic violence unit, a position she has held for over a decade. She is also on the executive leadership team and serves as the Deputy Chief Assistant State Attorney for the entire office. Her responsibilities include supervising satellite offices, several attorneys, and units within the office.
“I take pride in being able to protect the women, children, and men in our community and be a voice for them in court, especially when they are going through one of the toughest situations they will face in their lives,” Cox says.
People may be surprised to learn that men are often victims of domestic violence, Cox says, but national statistics show that 1 in 9 men will experience some form of intimate partner violence in his lifetime.
Because of the nature of domestic violence cases, a successful outcome is not necessarily measured by a guilty verdict or lengthy jail sentence, Cox says.
“Sometimes the only success you’ll experience is knowing you assisted someone who finally found the strength in that moment to call the police, where they may have been a victim ten times before and never called for help.”
There is a list of reasons to explain why many victims of domestic and dating violence may not cooperate with the prosecution of their case.
“I want victims to know that our domestic violence unit is a group of prosecutors that will fight for them, that will protect them, and want them to be in a place of peace and comfort,” Cox says. “Our team is ready whenever they are ready.”
A Voice for the Voiceless
Cox says there are, unfortunately, too many cases where the victim is unable to participate in the prosecution of their case.
“I had one not too long ago where a husband arranged for his pregnant wife to be murdered,” Cox says. The man, Euri Jenkins, was convicted of hiring a hit man to kill Makeva Jenkins while she was in bed. Jenkins was sentenced to life in prison.
Cox and her dogged, determined team also prosecuted a case in which a husband gunned down his wife in her driveway. Another where a man doused his partner with gasoline and lit her on fire.
In all the cases above, Cox was able to achieve justice.
“Not all of my cases have been domestic violence cases,” Cox says, “But I do have a strong passion for seeking justice for homicide victims and the loved ones they leave behind.”
One particularly memorable case for Cox and her team unfolded in 2015. Then, an off-duty Palm Beach County police officer was convicted of shooting a Black motorist whose vehicle had broken down on the side of the highway. The man, Corey Jones, had been waiting in his car for roadside assistance after calling for a tow truck.
Following the outcome of the case, which resulted in a 25-year prison term for Nouman Raja, Cox told reporters that “Justice can be served no matter who you are.”
A ‘Rising Star’
Her dedication to justice has earned her awards from her peers and the community.
In 2022, Cox received the Rising Star Award from the Palm Beach County Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
The award reads, in part: “She is a devoted servant leader in our community having served two terms as President of the YWCA of Palm Beach County and currently serves on the board of directors for the Palm Beach County Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers. She mentors young women in our community who are embarking upon their career journeys and supports women through her work as a domestic violence prosecutor and community advocate. In 2019, she received the prestigious Justice Barbara Pariente Award for her commitment to promoting women in the Palm Beach County legal community and was named “Trailblazer of the Year” by Legacy South Florida Magazine.”
Cox has also launched a Conviction Review Unit in her office, a newer initiative that is slowly spreading across the nation.
“What we do,” Cox says, “Is examine petitions submitted by people who claim they were wrongfully convicted.”
Cox and the others on the unit are tasked with identifying, remedying and preventing such cases in the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit. So far, Florida has five similar units; two men in Duval County were freed after serving 43 years for a murder conviction after that circuit’s Conviction Review Unit determined there was evidence of their innocence.
Candidate Cox Announces Bid for Elected Office
For 11 years, Cox has worked closely with Dave Aronberg, the State Attorney of Palm Beach County. Aronberg announced this past June that he will not seek a fourth term in office in 2024.
Cox, who has served as a member of Aronberg’s executive leadership team for the past three years, has announced her candidacy for the office.
“It’s been a highlight of my career to work with him,” Cox says. “The opportunity to continue his legacy and build upon the great work that our team has done since he was elected in 2012 is inspirational. I believe I can be a great State Attorney for Palm Beach County.”
If Cox wins the election next year, she will make history as not only the first woman, but also the first Black person to ascend to that position.
“It’s not only about ‘shattering a ceiling,’” Cox says. “I am uniquely qualified for this position. I have been a prosecutor for nearly two decades. I have earned the respect of the community by being a community leader and builder. And, I grew up here. This is my home.”
A Community Builder
Cox was asked to deliver a eulogy once by a grieving mother who had suffered the loss of her daughter in a murder-suicide.
The mother wanted Cox to talk about the warning signs of domestic violence, and ways to help if your loved one was in a troubling relationship.
After the funeral service, Cox was inundated by mourners who were thanking her for sharing the information.
“So many people were coming up to me,” Cox says. “It took a while for me to make it to my car because I was stopped multiple times by women who wanted to share their stories and thank me for sharing the information. Knowing that there are so many people in my community who are living these situations every day just fuels my commitment to their service.”
Cox is also a mentor to young mothers. The connection is obvious.
“As someone who is well acquainted with the challenges that come with being a young single mother, I think it’s important for them to see someone who has lived that experience and still accomplished their goals,” Cox says. “I tell them that it will not be easy, but they can still be whatever they want to be. All they have to do is believe in themselves and keep going forward.”
UCF is Her Fight Song
Recently, Cox reflected on her full-circle journey from growing up in Palm Beach County and returning to serve her beloved community. She credits her family, friends, and the many experiences she had at UCF for helping her along the way. Cox proudly boasts that UCF has become somewhat of a family school. Both her baby sister, Angel (Cox) Tyre ’06, and niece, Na’Tereya Mosley ‘23, followed in her footsteps and graduated from UCF.
“My experience at UCF was very vibrant,” Cox says. “It was amazing. I am still talking about it more than 20 years later because it brings up so many wonderful memories for me. I cherished my time at UCF, and I promise to always keep Charging On.”
Some of Cox’s most cherished memories of UCF involve her sorority, the Mu Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, the first Black Greek-lettered organization on UCF’s campus. Below, Cox shares some of her favorite memories.