More Than Just Singing Along: The Filipino Story Behind Karaoke Belting out your favorite tunes…
Jessica Cox is a Filipino-American professional motivational speaker. Cox was born without arms, a rare birth defect. She is also a fourth degree Taekwondo black belter, plays the piano, and has licenses to be a scuba diver, driver, and pilot.
The 38-year-old is an in-demand motivational speaker and a Guinness World Records holder. Her Filipino mom Inez was from Eastern Samar and later married William Clinton Cox, an American.
When Jessica was born, both her arms were absent, a condition called Phocomelia Syndrome. While growing up, she couldn’t help but notice the obvious as she was growing up. Her parents tried their best to give her a normal childhood, but it wasn’t easy.
Jessica’s story was featured on GMA News and Public Affairs’ Stories of Hope on May 17, 2021. “When I was younger, I would always ask my mother, ‘Why did God make me this way?'”. She felt alienated outside of her house.
Jessica says she has always felt different, and as a child was made to wear prosthetic arms so that she could cope with her “shortcomings”. When she was younger, she had to wear them for eleven years because they were “difficult to use, fake arms—they were heavy, they were awkward.”
After 11 years of wearing them, she decided to give them up and leave them behind. She says walking to her first day of eighth grade without them was the best decision she ever made. “I was finally going to be the person God created me to be”.
In college, Jessica took up Psychology at the University of Arizona. She graduated with flying colors in 2005 and was able to get a driver’s license too. After graduation, she became a professional motivational speaker. However, there was another career that fascinated Jessica, even if she also feared it: flying. An opportunity to conquer her fear of flying presented itself when she met a former fighter pilot.
Jessica is the first female pilot certified to fly an airplane with her feet. She passed her check-ride on October 10, 2008, which made her a licensed pilot who is able to fly a light-sport aircraft. Three years after she conquered her fear and became a fully-licensed pilot, Jessica was recognized by the Guinness World Records.
She shares what she would tell a child who has no arms: You should be proud of your difference. You should be confident. Don’t let other people tear you down. A year after earning the Guinness World Records, Jessica marked a personal milestone when she met her husband for the first time.
Jessica and Patrick’s marriage was a journey of progressing through the martial arts, as well as getting to know each other. Jessica has been in touch with her Filipino roots since she was eight years old when she visited the Philippines for the first time. Her mom, who passed away five years ago, instilled positive memories and things that her mom instilled in her.
But more importantly, she feels invigorated to continue along this path and serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration to others. “It is such a powerful experience when I’m up there, speaking, and sharing my story, being present with people”.
She delivered her last in-person speech on March 11, 2016, and all of her speeches were cancelled due to the global pandemic.
“If that means giving a major address to a large corporation in my living room,” she remarked.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS IMPOSSIBLE.
Jessica believes that self-acceptance and understanding one’s value, regardless of what society thinks, are essential for success.
“The saying, ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your permission,’ is such a lovely quote,” Jessica remarked. “I think a lot of times, we have to acknowledge that not everyone in the world will always appreciate our differences.”
“However, even if others may not always accept us, we must be the best version of ourselves.”
“It will transform our lives for the better if we choose not to be affected by negativity.”
Jessica wants to tell everyone that they, too, can do great things if they simply believe in themselves.
“I hope that all of you who have been inspired by my tale can go out and pursue your ambitions.”
“To achieve your own impossibilities, to stay positive, to keep going, to never give up, and to remember that everything is possible with God.”