Brandon Nickolas Cooper has certainly been busy.

At 26 years old, Cooper was appointed by the Collier County Board of County Commissioners as the youngest member ever to serve on the Collier County Black Affairs Advisory Board. He’s currently chairman of the board, serving a four-year term.

Cooper also founded the Ave Maria School of Law’s Black Law School Student Association St. Benedict the Moor Chapter. As a founder, he volunteers to mentor young law students, teaching them the importance of community engagement, pro bono service and activism as obligations in their profession. (Cooper won the 2016 Ave Maria School of Law Pro-Bono Service Award, among awards related to his service.)

He tells fellow self-starters to seize mentorship opportunities like these.

“Find a mentor and utilize them to save yourself time. In your mentor/mentee relationship always add value,” he says. “Mentees can add value to their mentors by being pro-active. Do not wait for things to be handed to you.”

In addition to coaching Ave Maria’s Black Law Student Association Moot Court Team, Cooper advocates in the community for equal opportunity and education initiatives. He currently sits on the board of directors and serves as a legal liaison for the Innovative Community Engagement Foundation of Florida. He’s also a board member and the development director for the MWUGL Foundation, and a member of the Isaac Anderson Jr. Bar Association in Fort Myers.

His lasting advice to young professionals?

“Plan in intervals, today, the next three days, one year, three years, seven years… Keep a big-picture mindset,” he says. And, above all else: “Be positive, Rome was not built in a day. Trust your process, and do not compare it to others. We all have our individual race to run.”

Cooper was a successful jazz musician prior to his law career. A Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonian, Cooper has shared the stage with talents such as Musiq Soul Child, Delfeo Marsalis, Wes Anderson and Esperanza Spalding. Born in Italy and raised in Europe, Cooper is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.