Devlin Cooper, ’02, and his wife Ashley, both attorneys in Middle Georgia, are endowing a scholarship available for Honors students. The scholarship will give priority to Honors students studying economics or English or who are considering attending law school.
Devlin Cooper is a summa cum laude graduate of Georgia College with a degree in economics, while Ashley has dual degrees in Honors English and political science. They work together at the Macon, Georgia, law firm of Cooper, Barton & Cooper, LLP. Devlin’s practice focuses on business litigation, eminent domain law and business law, while Ashley focuses her practice on criminal defense and juvenile law and also serves as the firm’s managing partner.
“We were both scholarship recipients when we attended our universities, and the financial assistance that we received was important to each of us,” said Ashley. “We want to give back in the same way and pay it forward. We hope that this scholarship can make a difference in some way to deserving students who may need it.”
“Scholarship support is critical to the Honors Program’s rise to national preeminence in that it will help us attract even more academically talented students from around the country,” said Dr. Steve Elliott-Gower, director of the Honors Program and associate professor of political science. “The timing of this gift could not be better, coming as it does on the cusp of our 50th anniversary. We are very grateful to Devlin and Ashley for supporting our Honors students.”
In addition to offering a scholarship for students enrolled in the Honors Program, Devlin has served on the Honors Advisory Board since 2017 and was an Alumni Board member.
He was younger than most of the student body when he enrolled at Georgia College at 16 years of age to study economics. He considered himself to be a bit shy at that age, especially in classes with students who were a few years older than him, but he believes that his experiences at Georgia College allowed him to grow into himself and develop the self-confidence necessary to succeed in college, law school and his profession. According to Devlin, critical to that development was the opportunity that Georgia College offered to him to grow intellectually and to become more assured in formulating and defending his positions.
“The professors at Georgia College, whether it be my friend Tina Yarborough in an independent studies course on multiculturalism, Dr. DeVries in Linear Algebra, any of my professors in economics or those in an Honors seminar, they challenged us to provide and defend our answers and opinions and to fully explain ourselves,” he said. “That is perhaps the most valuable skill that you can develop, and to some extent, that is what I now do for other people for a living.”
“So often in law, you start with a problem to be solved, research the problem, apply that research to the facts, stake out a position that’s beneficial to your client and defend that position,” said Ashley. “And, hopefully, if you are good at what you do, then you argue and defend that position in a compelling way.”
This is, in large part, how Georgia College prepared Devlin to be a lawyer. Whether in front of a jury, in a meeting or a key meeting, he constantly goes through this process of critical thinking. Ultimately, this has helped him achieve the AV Preeminence rating from Martindale-Hubbell in 2013—the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standard.
With the opportunity to give back to Georgia College, Ashley and Devlin want to focus on students who share their interests. Devlin was exposed to a larger perspective of the world through the International Club, Economics Department and the Honors and Scholars Program. He emphasized that the most unique aspect of Georgia College he was able to capitalize on was the opportunity as an undergraduate to get to know and work closely with his professors. Devlin remembers many lengthy discussions with Chair and Professor of Economics Dr. J.J. Arias and Economics Professors Drs. Doug Butler and Doug Walker.
“I benefitted tremendously from the access I had to my professors,” he said. “We had frequent department gatherings and dinners at The Brick and other downtown restaurants. There was a lot of synergy there between students and professors during those chances to bond outside the classroom environment, talk about economics and benefit from their career and life advice. Those opportunities become more common in some graduate programs, but they were of great benefit when I was a junior and senior.”
Another aspect of college the Coopers took advantage of was the opportunity to study off campus in different types of exchange programs. Ashley spent a summer of law school studying at the University of Hawaii, and Devlin spent his final semester of college interning for Attorney General Edwin Meese III in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Devlin’s internship was coordinated by The Washington Center—an independent, nonprofit organization serving hundreds of universities in the U.S. and other countries, which allows chosen college students opportunities to work and learn in Washington, D.C. for academic credit. Dr. Doris Moody, director of the Honors Program at that time, also served as the campus liaison for The Washington Center.
“Dr. Moody is the one who pushed me to apply for the Honors Program initially,” said Devlin. “Then, throughout my time at Georgia College, she seemed to always offer some timely, friendly advice about opportunities I had as a student that I otherwise would not have considered, whether it was joining the Honors and Scholars Program, presenting an antitrust law paper at the National Honor Conference in Chicago a month or so after September 11, or moving to Washington, D.C. a few months later for an internship. There are no words sufficient to fully explain the impact that guidance and those opportunities had on my life, and there is no way to fully repay that debt. But, Ashley and I think that this scholarship for Honors students is a pretty good start.”
To see how you can offer a scholarship to Georgia College students enrolled in the Honors Program, contact Michael Watson at 478-445-8522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.