Multiple Myloma is a blood cancer which has caused Michelle Swallows, APSU student, to suffer bone and body pain, as well as a brain tumor.

Her diagnosis came in 2009, and the typical remission is three years. Swallows received a stem cell transplant in 2012, and she continues her education on campus in the social work department.

Swallows discussed her inspiration for becoming a social worker, and she mentioned that APSU Instructor, Barbara Beswick was one of the two social workers who inspired her the most. Beswick teaches Child Welfare I and II, and she has led Swallows toward a waiting career at the Department of Children’s Services.

Being a recipient of the Valor Award, Swallows maintains that “you can face adversity and bounce back.” She balances a family of four children, with two of them still at home, a position as a peer mentor, and still has time to serve as President of the Social Work Club. Her husband has just recently returned from a long deployment in the military.

Swallows has learned to help others and to use school as a coping strategy. She added that she has a strong support group with military families and within her own family. She looked amused and said, “The worst part of this was losing my hair.” She began to tell the stories about her first experiences after treatments, and clearly, has a broad sense of humor about her condition.

Prior to her diagnosis, Swallows started school at the University of Phoenix and earned an associate’s degree in Human Services Management. She later entered the social work department and will begin her internship at DCS in the fall. Swallows has not allowed her illness to become a liability.

“I look at my illness as a gift,” Swallows said. “I can either sit at home or bounce back.” Her attitude is positive and she believes her purpose is “to give back to others who are less fortunate.” Swallows said she is able to see good that she believes exists in everyone. She wants to make an impact in the state system and put her education and sense of purpose to work.

As Swallows moves toward graduation, she said she has dreams of coming back to school to study for her master’s degree in the Department of Social Work. Additionally, Swallows wants to study for her licensure in social work and tackle that as soon as possible.