Joel is currently an undergraduate at American University working toward a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies; Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government. Raised in San Antonio, Joel’s family hails from the Pacific coast and the Northeast of the United States, and he holds an appreciation for the geographic and cultural diversity throughout the country.
Living amongst people with various divergent opinions and views has heavily influenced the way Joel handles conflict. As a triplet, he had to learn how to compromise from a young age, and this helped him learn what type of communication fosters healthy dialogue among opposites. As a delegate at the UNESCO Center for Peace’s International Model United Nations summer program, Joel was able to apply this skill to create friends from across the world, realizing that all people are more alike than they are different. Interest in the beauty of the world and its people led Joel to craft a history fair documentary about the National Geographic Society and its quest to educate the public and open minds; the group documentary later became a 2016 National History Day finalist.
In 2016, Joel was honored to be chosen out of a large applicant pool as a Bank of America Student Leader. Through this program Joel obtained a summer job at Communities In Schools of San Antonio, a non-profit dedicated to ensuring that all students have the support network they need to complete their public education and succeed in their goals. Joel spent the first half of his internship working directly with elementary school students in San Antonio’s most struggling neighborhoods with programs designed to keep kids active and learning during summer break. From there he worked in the central offices of the organization, collating datasets and working on various initiatives to be implemented in the following school year.
During the summer of 2018 Joel studied conflict management and counter-terrorism in Israel in collaboration with IDC Herzliya, a research university located just north of Tel Aviv. While there he attended lectures with former members of the Knesset, experts in Middle East diplomacy, as well as Arab and Jewish communities.
Today Joel is grateful to be a student of the School of Public Affairs Leadership program, in which he engages in research and outreach projects. In 2018, Joel worked with a group on an advocacy campaign intended to raise awareness of food deserts in the Washington, D.C. area as well as increase volunteerism at community gardens that serve affected communities. With these opportunities, Joel hopes to further his research and promotion of healthy dialogues in the nation’s capital.