"In fact, I had cancelled my invitation to the finale a few days before due to a lack of self-confidence - and because the month of April was especially challenging for me.
"I somehow made it to the event and when it got to my category, I was patiently anticipating the winner and looking out to see who it would be. I had no thought of winning at all. They called the winner and it was me. I was in disbelief until I saw my image on stage and everyone staring at me and applauding. I was totally gobsmacked."
When asked what the title meant to him, Joel said, "It means hope and reassurance. It is especially encouraging to see LGBT+ undergraduates being celebrated for our contribution to society. We are reclaiming space and owning our achievements, no longer shrinking to accommodate our oppressors.
"There's still more work to be done and there's always ground to cover in England and in my home country Nigeria, as well as globally."
Referring to his work in Africa, he said, "My hopes for Nigeria are high especially seeing other young people advocating beyond the walls of social media, notably during the ENDSARS protest [against police brutality] and how the LGBT+ community stood up in solidarity to campaign for our rights.
"It's a long walk to freedom, however - but not beyond the LGBT+ community, as love will find a way. It can be delayed yes, but not completely halted."
Joel said he had mixed views about his wide-reaching social media work and its impact.
"It's a gift and a curse," he said. "Having a huge platform is a privilege. I am constantly astounded by the millions one can reach. However, it opens grounds for being a target of bullies. I use it as a tool to create awareness, take surveys, raise funds for causes I care about, study data, challenge the status quo and educate the uninformed.
"But it can push anyone to the very limit of exhaustion and depression by constantly having to fight with trolls and naysayers. In the end, it's a necessary evil."
Joel is currently in his Foundation Year in Social Services in the School of Education and Communities looking to turn his activism into a career with the aim of "making a positive impact on a small, medium and large scale".
He is funded by an OLIve UP scholarship, which is made available by the University to students with an asylum seeker and refugee background and was the first step towards his return to education. He attended the 12-week course, presented his creative work at several conferences and co-wrote an academic article with OLIve staff.
And Joel's advice for those who might want to emulate his achievements?
"I mostly don't know what I am doing, but I am doing something. My advice would be: just do it. Come with your best self, however unworthy you think you are. Your past shouldn't define you. If the voices in your head are not cheering for you then it's time to silence the chatter. The time is now."