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P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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Akash Patel, 2016

JD, University of Michigan

Akash Patel is an immigrant from England

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a JD at University of Michigan

Born in London, Akash Patel is the son of Indian immigrants. Akash’s family moved from India to England and then to the United States in the early 1990s in search of better opportunities. Akash watched his family thrive even with modest means, so he learned early on how to take full advantage of any opportunity to better himself and others.

Akash was less than two years old when he arrived in America, but was not afforded citizenship until the age of 23. Protracted wait times meant that Akash’s family lived as undocumented immigrants for 16 years until they could adjust their status. But Akash’s inspiration has always been the struggle and triumph of his sister, Nisha, who aged out of her petition to receive her green card, yet went on to pursue a PhD in microbiology at the University of Oklahoma (OU).

As a result, Akash founded Aspiring Americans in Oklahoma City as part of his honors research project at OU to assist other undocumented students in Oklahoma, which has raised over $200,000 in grants, scholarships, and in-kind resources. Aspiring Americans also provides training and workshops about maximizing all educational opportunities for students in Oklahoma regardless of citizenship status. In addition, Akash has enjoyed working with Oklahoma City Public Schools by serving on the Lau Planning Committee as well as the Superintendent’s Diversity Council to ensure that all diverse students groups have equitable educational outcomes.

Now, Akash is pursuing law in order to combine his community organizing experience with a legal acumen to advocate for all those who do not have a voice in the immigration and educational systems.

Education
  • BA Political Science, Philosophy, Constitutional Studies | University of Oklahoma
Awards
  • University of Oklahoma Carl Albert Award | Top award for graduating senior in College of Arts of Sciences
  • NAFSA Award for Special Service to International Education
  • Human Rights Award, Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance
  • Ambassador of Hope Award, Ruth Joyce Colbert Barnes Foundation
Work History
  • Aspiring Americans, Founder, Executive Director | February 2014 - October 2015
  • Michael-Brooks Jimenez for State Senate, Campaign Manager | June 2014 - November 2014
  • University of Oklahoma, Teaching Assistant, Politics in America | January 2014 - May 2014
  • Center for American Progress, Education Policy Intern | June 2013 - August 2013
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