Biola University student Ashley Cox, a liberal studies elementary education major, recently received a scholarship from Biola’s Office of Innovation for demonstrating her abilities as an innovator in her field. Cox was selected as a scholarship recipient based on her creativity in starting her own tutoring business for children with special needs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Cox noticed the effect of the pandemic on all students, but specifically saw the struggle for children with autism.

“The routine and one-on-one support of the teacher was removed when schools switched to online learning due to COVID-19. Therefore, I created this tutoring business to help students with autism, providing them with a new routine and one-on-one tutoring,” said Cox. “The special education courses and classroom observations that I experienced through the School of Education gave me the background knowledge and confidence I needed to start this business.”

In receiving the scholarship, Cox expressed how she felt shocked to even be considered. She was also grateful for the financial support due to negative effects COVID-19 had on her own family.

The Office of Innovation encouraged students to be creative in their own industry or field of study this summer by awarding five scholarships for the 2020/21 academic year. The office is designed to develop innovation within Biola’s nine schools to ignite Christ-honoring innovation and entrepreneurship in students and faculty.

More than 100 students applied for the scholarship with five selected based on their creativity and success. Each student submitted a letter of recommendation and essay which highlighted their innovative goals. Although Cox was hesitant to apply for the scholarship initially, she was encouraged by her family to be confident in the business she started.

“My hope is that my business will only continue to grow as the pandemic changes and eventually ends,” said Cox. “There is an immediate need right now for one-on-one tutoring due to school closures, however, this need is not going to disappear when the pandemic ends.”

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Written by Joy Blea, media relations intern. For more information, contact Jenna Loumagne, assistant director of strategic communications and media relations, at