Akash Patel lives by a mantra he puts into action every day — you're never too young to make a difference.
Patel, 20, is a student at Oklahoma City Community College. He's spent the last two summers volunteering in the Dominican Republic. Last month Patel hosted a United Nations teleconference aimed at encouraging volunteering among young people.
Patel, who emigrated from India with his parents five years ago, has visited 30 countries and has given at least 250 speeches on motivation and volunteering.
Patel is a fast talker and confident. He has to be if he wants to achieve his ultimate goal of becoming a diplomat.
“I think service to humanity is a must,” he said. “Everyone can benefit from it.”
Patel said he first decided to get into public speaking at the urging of his teachers in India.
“My teachers felt like I was a little bit different,” he said. “I never thought of myself that way back then. I was a normal 16-year-old student. But once I got into it, I found it very rewarding and a way to help others.”
The United Nations teleconference focused on youth volunteering. About 80 students from area colleges attended. Patel believes some people his age don't believe they can make a difference. He sees it differently.
“You're never too young or too old to make a difference,” he said. “If you have a passion and a will you can always achieve what you want and you can help others in the process.”
Luxmi Bhakta has known Patel for about four years. She said he's the kind of person you're always glad you ran into.