Lights, camera, ACTION! With the continued evolution of social media and technology, content creators can share their talent widely throughout the world without the need of a stage crew, make-up artist, costume designer, scriptwriter, director, etc. etc. etc.; in fact, you can do it from your very own living room with your iPhone! While it doesn’t take an army to create the content, it can be just as powerful and impactful as anything on the big screen. Many of these posts can reach tens of millions of people in a matter of hours and have the power to create movements (think the ice bucket challenge), shape culture, influence fashion, and even affect finance. All from the press of a button. Our guest today is doing just that. With more than 40,000,000+ impressions across TikTok and his other social media platforms, Joel Bervell has become an “influencer turned medical educator” who is tackling health disparities, racial bias in medicine, and global youth empowerment like no one else. Join us on one of our most interesting episodes to date as Joel shows us the man behind the screen, his views on how anyone can become a content creator for a cause, and how to challenge what we think we know. You won’t be disappointed!

Joel Bervell: co-founder of Hugs for, TikTok top 2021 “Voice for Change,” and American Medical Association’s Medical Student Digital Fellow






“Using TikTok to Teach and Tackle, Racial Bias in Medicine, and Empowering Next Generations”

Joel Bervell is a third-year Ghanaian-American medical student at Washington State University, Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. He is the co-founder of Hugs for, a non-profit that is dedicated to empowering the next generation of high school global leaders. Today, Hugs has mobilized hundreds of youth volunteers and fundraised over $500,000 worth of material gifts and monetary donations and successfully planned trips to Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. 


In 2017, Joel graduated from Yale University, where he earned a BA in Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology. There, Joel served as an elected member of Yale student government, and director of a longitudinal mentorship program based in low-income neighborhoods. After graduating, he completed a Masters in Medical Science at Boston University and spent a year working as a clinical research assistant at Providence Hospital researching best treatment modalities for appendicitis.


At Washington State University, Joel served as Medical Student Council President and the co-founder and president of a chapter of the Student National Medical Association. He is also the founder and director of the Coug Health Academic Mentoring Program (CHAMP), a mentoring program dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented students interested in medicine. Joel is committed to fighting health disparities in medicine through education and regularly shares topics about racial disparities/ biases in healthcare and other industries on his TikTok and Instagram (@joelbervell) where his platforms have over 400,000+ combined followers and 40,000,000+ impressions. He has been invited to speak at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Clinton Foundation, Network of the National Library of Medicine, Verizon, Open Society Foundations, Bank of America, General Electric and more. He has also spoken on well-known local and national media outlets including Good Morning America, NPR, YahooNews and WebMd, has produced digital media content featured on Vox, Aljazeera and Brut Media, and has published work in prestigious academic journals such as the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.


He currently is serving as the American Medical Association’s Medical Student Digital Fellow, working with the World Health Organization’s Digital Communications Team with a collection of health professionals combatting the spread of misinformation on social media about COVID-19, and on a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion project with the VA Hospital systems.


Joel has been named by TikTok as the top 2021 “Voice for Change,” was featured by TikTok as one of 10 “Changemakers” on their inaugural Discover List, named as one of ten recipients of the 50K MACRO x TikTok Black Creatives Grant, and was a nominee for the AdColor Awards. Mashable called him “your next must-follow creator.” He is the recipient of the National Medical Association’s Emerging Scholar Award, the highest academic honor presented to a student by the National Medical Association. Joel has served in an advisory role on the boards of multiple organizations including the National Student Response Network, Hope in A Box, and the Ron Brown Leaders Network Council.