Joel is from Southern California and studies English at Howard University. During his time at Howard, Joel has earned Phi Beta Kappa honors, was president of the Sterling Allen Brown English Society, and mentored elementary school children at the U.S. Dream Academy in Southeast D.C. He also completed two summer research fellowships with the Leadership Alliance Melon Initiative at the University of Chicago and the University of Virginia. As a Marshall Scholar, Joel will study how Black authors signify intimacy in their images of the African-American church. He will earn an M.A. degree in English from the University of Manchester.