Meet the EconSharks

Charity-Joy Acchiardo

“Every individual has the potential to contribute to the wealth of their society, whether that be monetarily, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, or otherwise.”

Charity-Joy was an economist before she knew the meaning of the word. Throughout her childhood, she worked hard to invent different ways to stay up past her bedtime. One of her most successful techniques involved asking her mom or dad a deep, philosophical, meaning-of-life type question right before they were going to turn the light out. Through these late night conversations, she amassed a large inventory of ideas and questions for further pursuit. Yet it wasn’t until she took her first university economics course that she realized she had been debating questions of an economic nature all those years. She had always thought economics was about money, but it was really a human study – why does a person choose to act in a particular way and what does that mean for the rest of society? She immediately knew the path she was meant to take, and embarked on her journey as a professional economist.

Charity-Joy taught her first economics course as a PhD student. She was nervous walking into the classroom the first day, but, much to her surprise (and the delight of her students, of course), she learned she could easily talk about economics for 3 straight hours! From then on, excitement replaced her nervousness as she looked forward to what would unfold in each class. An ardent believer in the value of the unique contribution each individual student can give to society, whether in or outside the classroom, Charity-Joy encourages active participation in the learning process.

Six years after that first course, Charity-Joy has taught thousands of students, led numerous workshops for educators, and directs the Office of Economic Education at the University of Arizona. She is the co-editor of Dystopia and Economics, a new title to be released by Routledge in 2017, writes for The Learn Liberty Blog, and is a co-author of HONYEcon. Her net worth is, well… nowhere near that of Barbara Corcoran’s or Lori Greiner’s, but when she takes a look at where she stands in this Global Rich List, she knows she lives in abundance.

Knowing there’s an opportunity cost to every minute, she strives to invest ample time with family, friends, and her fun-loving dog.  


abdullahAbdullah Al-Bahrani

“The pursuit of knowledge is the secret to success, the key to happiness is having fun while doing it”

Abdullah Al-Bahrani believes Economics can be used to explain everything in the world, and the most complex world problems are best understood and solved by applying economic concepts. When he looks around the world, he recognizes that the best problem solvers are comfortable with applying economic analysis.

His international upbringing has shown him the diversity of issues around the globe. While he has always been passionate about understanding the economic issues different cultures face, he struggled as an economics student initially. After almost dropping out of college, he realized that he did better in classes with certain teachers than others. That’s when he realized that teachers mattered. Since then, he has made it his goal to be the best teacher he can and believes he has an obligation to bring economics to life for his students. He focuses his efforts on finding ways to make economics relevant to them.

After completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Louisville, Abdullah enrolled at American University to pursue a masters in Economic Theory. During the housing boom, he took a break from academia to work in the mortgage markets. His experience watching the housing market begin to crumble is what motivated him to return to graduate school. He completed his PhD from the University of Kentucky in 2010.

His innovative teaching methods have earned him several awards. In 2016, he received the Award for Teaching and Instruction Excellence at Northern Kentucky University for his work developing Econ Beats, #EconSelfies, HONYEcon, and the use of Social Media in teaching. The year prior, his work was recognized by the Haile/US Bank College of Business and received the Dean’s Citation for Teaching.

As a teacher he recognizes that his net worth is not measured in dollars but in the number of lives he touches. Since 2010, he has taught thousands of students. He is a teacher, mentor, and advisor. His love for economics is contagious, and he takes pride in the fact that he remains in contact with his students long after they have left the classroom.

Economics is Abdullah’s passion, and it is part of his everyday life. When he isn’t in the classroom, working on research, or analyzing data, he is working out. He is also an avid reader, enjoys traveling, and is continuously trying to develop his photography skills.

  Darshak Patel 

“Knowledge is like a hike up a mountain – the path to the top is challenging but the view is breathtaking.”

Darshak needed economics early on in his life. Economics is about making smart choices, and Darshak was everything but smart. He made terrible decisions, including losing money in gambling and making ill-fated investments. More importantly, he didn’t stop, because he felt he had to recover his lost time and money. If only someone had connected him to the idea of sunk cost earlier! However, once he began to learn the practical application of economic principles to his life, he made it his personal goal to ensure others were equipped with the same knowledge to inform their decisions. After all, economics is designed to help us be problem solvers!

Looking back, one can see how events in Darshak’s past led him to take the path he is on now. Growing up in Kenya, he was one of the few fortunate people who had the opportunity to go to school and enjoy some of the luxuries of life. He also saw poverty, hunger, and homelessness – which saddened him. At the same time, he witnessed huge levels of corruption that fueled his anger. Politicians that could have been helping citizens, were satisfying their selfish needs. Driven by these emotions, Darshak remembers immediately connecting with the first economics class he took in high school. It explained so much about life, and it made sense. He was so blown away by the fact that everything in life could be explained using economics, that he got a bachelors degree, two masters degrees and a Ph.D. in economics! Economics and education to him were the solution to several problems experienced by Kenyans and others throughout the world. Darshak believes educating people in economics can help alleviate poverty, ignorance, and corruption. As he spends more time in the classroom engaging with students and discussing these issues, he realizes a great deal of progress is made simply by starting a dialogue.

Darshak lives for the moments. He believes a single moment can leave a lasting impact. In the fall of 2015, he taught his first large lecture of over 350 students. At the end the last lecture, his students applauded him, and several came up to thank him for a wonderful semester. Darshak’s hope is that moments like that impact students in a way that leaves them yearning for more knowledge. Darshak’s net worth can be determined by calculating the net present value of the lasting impact of all the moments he has had in his educational career.

Though Darshak’s passion lies in economics, he enjoys many other pursuits. He claims to be a good soccer player, loves getting lost on hikes, frequents local breweries, and has the best dog in the world.

  Sheridan, Brandon Brandon J. Sheridan

“Economics can be difficult and challenging; the same can be said of most things in life that are highly valued.”

Brandon believes that economics is everywhere. It may sound cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. It is the decisions we make (or do not make) and the way we behave (or misbehave) that shapes our life.

He originally thought learning about economics would teach him how to make money in the stock market. This is a common misconception. While knowledge of economics does provide insights into investing, he learned that it is so much more than that. After graduating from Centre College, Brandon began working in an economic development office for a county government near his hometown. The most important thing he learned from that experience was that he wanted a much deeper knowledge and understanding of the way the economy worked. He began his graduate studies and earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Kentucky in 2012 – go Wildcats!

Though he first envisioned working for a public policy think-tank, during graduate school Brandon quickly discovered he also had a deep passion for teaching. He was inspired while watching his students take an exam for the first time, marveling at how they synthesized numerous concepts to create a more complete picture of how an economy works. Although his students did not characterize that particular exam as “inspiring,” there was much learning by all involved.

In addition to his research on international trade and economic growth, Brandon has published several articles related to pedagogy in economics. These articles focus on the efficacy and prevalence of social media and popular media use in the economics classroom. Though he is exceedingly witty and entertaining, he knows that students still tire of hearing him talk for too long. As such, he incorporates cooperative learning, popular media, podcasts, ample economic data, and student-led discussions, among other active learning approaches. His goal is to dispel notions that economics is “dismal” and show that it is relevant, interesting, and fun!

Brandon eats, sleeps, and breathes economics. He thinks about it constantly, incorporating new teaching approached, finding new examples to use, trying out a new research idea, etc. He is also an avid sports fan with a particular affinity for basketball. When he is not in the classroom, there is a good chance you’ll find him either watching or playing sports.