Joseph Arujo is a 20 year old mental health activist, content creator, and student in the Global Management Program (GMP) at Haas. As a fellow GMP-er, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Joseph, and have found (and continue to find) his work very inspiring. From his charisma, to his storytelling skills, and sheer passion for what he does, I knew I had to reach out to him for a Humans of Haas feature! 

What prompted you to begin posting content? 

During the pandemic, I had a lot of free time and found myself on my phone all the time. After discovering TikTok, I started posting videos and eventually found a niche that I enjoyed creating content in. After two years of consistently making videos, I amassed a following of over 850,000 people, and have had some amazing opportunities come from it.

In addition to creating content, you hold several positions: Tell us all about your role as a member on the Born This Way Foundation’s Advisory Board! How did you get into it, what have you done, and what have you learned thus far? 

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been a huge fan of Lady Gaga – but it wasn’t just her music that drew me to her work. LG takes a stand on many prevalent issues that face society, particularly those surrounding youth mental health and LGBTQ+ activism. After discovering that her team was looking for young people to advise them on their work, I got in contact and have been part of the cohort of advisory board members ever since. 

There have been some really cool opportunities that have come from being on Gaga’s advisory board. Just this past year, I was part of the Born This Way Foundation x CottonOn campaign, where we did a photoshoot and modeled for the clothing line. After it came out, we got to meet with LG and talk to her about our work in the mental health space.

I’ve learned so much from this cohort, but one of the main lessons I’ve taken is the importance of authenticity in advocacy. Genuine passion and commitment to a cause is what truly resonates with people, and Lady Gaga herself is a testament to this.

Why did you decide to attend UC Berkeley? 

Choosing UC Berkeley was a no-brainer for me when it came to academic pursuits. I’ve always wanted to study Business Administration, and the program I was admitted to at Berkeley is one of the best in the nation for my career trajectory. To me, Berkeley isn’t just a university, but a launchpad for me to dream big and leave a mark on the world.

You, like myself, are in the Global Management Program at Haas. A component of GMP is studying abroad in London for your first semester. How did studying abroad change the way you view your studies and work? 

Studying in London for my first semester was one of the most transformative experiences while being at university. I truly feel like I gained a global perspective into the Business world, and immersed myself in so many different cultures while living in Europe. It felt as if the city itself was my classroom, and each day gave me a new lesson to learn.

While being abroad, I gave myself the goal to travel to 8 countries in 16 weeks, and I ended up going to 9. While many of these weekend trips were solely planned for relaxation, they also inadvertently helped shape my understanding of the world. My semester was definitely a journey of self-discovery and an experience I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Of the Haas values, which one would you say resonates with you (both personally and through your work) most? 

If I had to pick one, I’d say “Question the Status Quo” hits home for me. I’ve always been a very inquisitive person, wondering why and how things are done the way they are. This mindset has shaped my creativity in a way and has allowed me to succeed in building an online career for myself. I can’t wait to see how this translates outside of the classroom and into the professional world. 

You evidently have a lot of experience, especially in the media realm. Do you have any short- or long-term goals for the future?

I’m currently writing a children’s book that I hope to publish this year. I’m working with an incredible illustrator that has pieces in The Tate museum, and I’m honored to have him taking on my project. I hope this story turns out to be successful, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Do you have any advice to share with someone wanting to start creating content? 

Just go for it! A lot of people refuse to create content either due to embarrassment or fear of judgment from their peers. To that I say, block anyone you think would be judgy, and start posting as if you already have 1 million followers. Authenticity is so important, and if you’re creating out of passion rather than having the goal of a million followers, the audience will come to you.

Do you have any advice for someone who is considering applying to/attending Haas?

Throughout my Junior High years, I was extremely competitive with my academics, settling for nothing less than an A in school. This pursuit for perfection caused me to place far too much emphasis on my GPA, never allowing me to explore what I truly was passionate about. As I entered High School, this mindset followed. However, I also began to discover what I truly cared about and placed more of an emphasis on my passions compared to my grades.

This idea is so important when applying to Haas, and one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give to a prospective student. Yes, GPA is important. But not nearly as important as conveying what you truly care about in the world. My passion for Business wasn’t about getting an A+ in my Entrepreneurship class; instead, it was about my love for building brands and creating my first online business in the ninth grade. Throughout your application, convey your love for the field and show how you are already making a mark in Business, without even being admitted to the Business school yet. Haas is looking for future changemakers, and if you are already making a change in your community, definitely share that in your application. Good luck!

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