Latest MTSU Magazine highlights alumnus who overca...

Latest MTSU Magazine highlights alumnus who overcame adversity to help children

The winter 2018 edition of MTSU Magazine profiles alum Joel Alsup (’02), supervisor of Creative Media Services for ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. In that position, Alsup works closely with the national direct marketing department as a short-form video documentarian of the patients and the families who come through St. Jude.

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“I want the rest of the world to see the inside of St. Jude and what goes on there and the lives that we can actually impact,” he said. “It’s a blessing for me to get to know these families. And every time I think I’ve heard the most amazing and compelling story ever, I’ll hear another one. So it really is just an amazing job.”

A Chattanooga, Tennessee, native, Alsup specifically came to MTSU in Murfreesboro to study in its Media Arts electronic media communication studies, a program that for decades has been highly regarded nationally. While a student at MTSU, Alsup began thinking about how great it would be to use his skill as a videographer to help the world-renowned pediatric cancer hospital’s fundraising and awareness raising organization by producing videos showcasing stories about patients at St. Jude.

With his MTSU degree in hand, he achieved that self-described “dream job,” and has since parlayed his academic experience into a 15-year professional position as of January 2018.

What makes Alsup’s story so special, though, is that as a 7-year-old, he himself was a patient at St. Jude. Alsup survived his osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer; but did have to undergo the amputation of his right arm. During his months of treatment at St. Jude, Alsup endured not just chemotherapy but also physical therapy aimed at learning how to survive using only his left hand.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of his job? Alsup said there’s nothing quite like seeing kids grow up.

“I’ve seen kids go from 10 years old to 25 years old, literally grow up before my eyes,” he said. “And that makes me so happy to see these kids going from very, very ill to now making their own difference in the world.”

Alsup is one of those kids. And his storytelling — a craft he honed at MTSU — is making a big difference.

Other articles in the new edition of the magazine include:

  • MTSU’s fledgling hockey club gets a boost from the success of its nearby fanged friends, the Nashville Predators;
  • Last summer’s eclipse, for a day at least, brought physics and astronomy studies front and center for the nation. But the faculty of MTSU’s nationally recognized Department of Physics and Astronomy have long been ahead of the curve when it comes to ensuring bright futures for its graduates;
  • From nurturing heritage tourism to catalyzing Tennessee’s top economic initiatives, MTSU’s expanding culture of research and inquiry drives innovation and progress statewide.

Printed copies of MTSU Magazine are distributed twice annually to more than 109,000 alumni readers. MTSU Magazine stories are also available online at

— Drew Ruble (