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Ricky Cooks is looking to advance social causes through business.

Ricky Cooks, ’21

Major: Business Honors and Government

Ricky Cooks, a student in UT’s McCombs School of Business, wants to use his degree to build the economy of Texas and lift local communities.

Texas icon highlighting the city of Texarkana, Texas.

McCombs Business's student Ricky Cooks

Ricky Cooks believes in the power of business to change lives. Like his hometown of Texarkana, which straddles the Texas-Arkansas border, he has a foot in two worlds — social change and big business. “Whatever you might be passionate about, there’s an economic force behind it,” Ricky says.

A dual major business honors and government sophomore, he is studying the economic forces that change lives. When Ricky graduates, he wants to find a way to help others and make a profit. The state of Texas, he says, is the perfect place to do that.

The $1.8 trillion Texas economy is the second largest in America. “We are such a big stakeholder in the success of the United States,” Ricky says, “I’ve never pictured myself working anywhere else.”

Ricky was drawn to business after meeting Gary Kusin, a fellow alumnus of Texas High School in Texarkana, 1972 UT graduate, and Texas Exes Life Member. Kusin, the founder of GameStop and former CEO of FedEx Kinkos, returns to Texas High School every year to mentor top students like Ricky. They talk about how to make the most of college and beyond. Today, Ricky still calls him for advice.

It’s easy to get confused about your options and where to funnel your passion, Ricky notes. Because it was a mentorship that set him on a path to success, he takes time away from studying to make himself available to high school students from his hometown. “I care a lot about giving back to the Texarkana community. I make a huge point to tell students from my high school, even if you’re not interested in UT, you can talk to me about college. I want you to be as prepared as possible for your future.”

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