The impact of learning directly from business leaders — and an impression made on a stormy day — inspired Larry B. Cochran ’91 and his wife Jody to fund scholarships for full-time students in the Fellows Program at Mays. Their commitment to provide $50,000 to establish an endowed scholarship fund.
“I appreciate those who opened the doors for me back then. They gave me an opportunity to get into a program I wouldn’t have had a chance to get in, from a strictly an academic direction,” Cochran says. “It made a tremendous impact on me, and it continues to today. That’s why I wanted to give to the Fellows Program, so others would have an opportunity to enjoy the experiences that I have.”
Mays Dean Jerry Strawser calls the Cochrans’ gift “so meaningful in so many ways.” He adds, “The fact that our Fellows Program had such an impact on his life that he wanted to provide other students with that same opportunity is what we hope all of our programs do — transform the lives of our students.”
Cochran describes his academic career at Texas A&M as bifurcated — divided between his years right out of high school and those after he returned and enrolled in Mays. In between, he worked for six years in the family business.
In 1988, after Cochran married his wife Jody, “it was time to get serious and finish school,” he recalls. He got serious, indeed — enrolling in a full load of 18 to 22 hours a semester while working in the dean’s office doing accounting work. “It’s a lot different when you’re 26 versus when you’re 18 or 19,” Cochran says. “You take things much more seriously.”
He got into Fellows a year after he returned to A&M, and he says the program played a large role in shaping his future. The four hours he spent each week with the business professionals made a positive impression on him.
Cochran also got a summer internship with Exxon his senior year, and worked in Hong Kong the summer of 1990.
Since leaving the oil and gas business and purchasing IAS Claim Services in 2006, Cochran has worked providing property and casualty adjusting services for insurance companies across the country.
Cochran says he hopes that their gift will inspire and help Fellows students, as he was.
One Aggie student Cochran encountered during his college days stands out in his memory. Riding his bike to campus on a rainy day and frustrated with his situation, Cochran was questioning why he was sacrificing so much to complete his education when he could easily be back in the secure confines of the family business. As he got closer to the building where his class was, he saw another student walking on two crutches, drenched — and smiling.
“I thought, “If he can do this, what do I have to complain about?'” Cochran recalls.
Later that night, as Cochran headed home, he saw the young man riding a three-wheeled bicycle, sporting a Domino’s hat, delivering pizza.
“That made a real impression on me, to see him working so hard,” he says. “I’m trying to find people who have that determination and that kind of attitude. That’s who I want to help.”