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Award-winning OCCC alumnus and instructor speaks at international conference

Award-winning OCCC alumnus and instructor speaks at international conference

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A world-renowned educator and innovator who is a proud Oklahoma City Community College alumnus and faculty member traveled to Kazakhstan from Oct. 5-7 to speak at the prestigious 2023 Nobel Fest, announced Dr. Mautra Jones, president of OCCC.

Akash Patel’s visit to Astana, Kazakhstan began Oct. 5 when he taught a Master class with the winners of the Global Teacher Prize to an audience of more than 300 teachers. Then, on Oct. 7 he delivered a speech on global citizenship and intercultural competence for more than 5,000 people at Nobel Fest, an annual international gathering of Nobel Laureates, global experts, industry innovators and business leaders.

“Since COVID-19, educators have become tech-savvy,” Patel said. “I hope to tap in that power of technology to show educators that we can connect our scholars with people around the globe, whether K-12 or university. That connection, that human-to-human connecting, leads to conflict resolution and peace building, things our world so desperately needs today.” 

“This conference really elevates the status of our profession,” Patel said. In a time where the industry is facing challenges – stress, burnout, and teachers leaving “in droves,” he said, “it is important for organizations like Nobel Fest, Global Teacher Prize and the Nobel Prize to elevate the status of teachers, educators and instructors and the work we lead on a day-to-day basis transforming the lives of our students.” 

Patel, a 2022 TIME Magazine Innovative Educator of the Year and 2018 Top 50 finalist for the Varkey Foundation’s $1 million Global Teacher Prize, began his journey into American education in 2009 when he and his twin brother traveled to the U.S. from India on full scholarships to study nuclear engineering at Iowa State University.  

Patel said they quickly realized that, as “people persons,” working with machines was “not their calling.” Buying a car on Craig’s List in Dec. 2009, the brothers traveled to Oklahoma, where they had an uncle, foregoing their scholarship.  

While working several part-time jobs, Patel attended OCCC, where he realized his “true calling” was teaching. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and then completed his master’s degree at the University of Central Oklahoma.   

His teaching career began at OCCC in 2014 and included stints with Oklahoma City Public Schools and Dallas ISD, where he taught Spanish and Portuguese. Moving back to Oklahoma this year, Patel resides in Norman and currently teaches ESL at OCCC and math for Epic Charter Schools. 

In 2018, Patel’s twin brother, Anand “Happy” Patel, was killed in a plane crash in Arizona. In his honor, Patel created the Happy World Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization that promotes global citizenship education, citizen-to-citizen diplomacy and cross-cultural understanding in schools and communities worldwide.  

Patel said he takes great pride in the nonprofit that keeps his brother’s memory alive. During the COVID-19 pandemic, “a time when children were isolated from the world, our nonprofit connected more than 30,000 classrooms in the U.S. with people from over 150 countries at no cost,” Patel said. 

Patel also serves as president of the board of directors of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, America’s largest language organization with over 15,000 educators. He speaks six languages – three of India’s official languages plus Spanish, Portuguese and English. 

“Professor Patel is a credit to OCCC, where world-class educators in a wide range of disciplines work to train the minds of the next generation of Oklahoma’s leaders,” Dr. Jones said.

About Oklahoma City Community College

Since its inception in 1972, Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) has been the heartbeat of the OKC Metro, dedicated to empowering learners and strengthening communities. Serving more than 18,000 students, we are committed to producing leaders. “Student Success, Community Enrichment” is our mission as we offer more than 60 degree and certificate programs that provide a steppingstone to further education or immediate career readiness. We remain dedicated to providing accessible, affordable, high-quality education that equips students to achieve personal and professional goals. OCCC is more than an institution; we are a community catalyst, fostering growth and success in our city, our workforce, and the lives of our students. Discover your potential at OCCC, where your future is our purpose. Visit us at

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