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Alumni Spotlight: Nick Swillum

Graduation Year: 1995
Major: Bachelors in Social Science, Bachelors in Physical Education, Masters in Secondary Education
Current Position: Retired effective July 1, 2024
City and State: Mt. Vernon, MO

Tell us about your career and what you do now.
I did my student teaching at Mt. Vernon during the Spring of 1995, half day of Physical Education and half day of 20th Century American History. God opened the door for me to be hired at Mt. Vernon High School and I started my career in the Fall of 1995. It has been a blessing to have been at one school district throughout the entirety of my 29 year career. I taught American History and Psychology at the High School level for the first 16 years of my career. I moved to the Middle School in 2011 and taught Physical Education along with Health. In 2023, I moved back to the High School and finished my career teaching Alternative Education and World History.
I have been the Head High School Baseball coach for the past 29 seasons recording 358 wins during that time period. I have also been an assistant football coach for 18 years and a Middle School volleyball coach for two years. In addition to those roles I was the Middle School Athletic Director for 12 years and the High School Assistant Athletic Director for 1 year.
The time I have spent in education has truly been a blessing. I have had the opportunity to do my best to be a positive influence in the lives of the students that have come through my classes as well as the athletes who have played on teams I have coached.

What is your favorite memory from Evangel?
Looking back on my time at Evangel, I am most thankful for God’s direction and plan He orchestrated for my life. Coming out of a small town high school and entering into Evangel was a big change for me. My professors, coaches, and teammates on the Evangel baseball team helped push me and encouraged me throughout my years at the University.
Dr. Holsinger and Sandra Sorbo were particularly instrumental in helping me find the path God had for me. My coaches, Gary West and Kevin Roepke, pushed me to better myself both physically and mentally. And my teammates, including Coach Chuck Hepola, helped me integrate God into sports through team devotionals.

How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?
I had a teacher in high school who spent extra time with me to help me through many of the academic challenges I struggled with growing up. Her influence in my life helped point me in the direction of Education.
When I got to Evangel that direction was confirmed through my professors. The love and genuine concern the professors have for their students at Evangel is very influential in helping to guide students to their calling. My academic advisor, Sandra Sorbo, was maybe the most influential in helping me confirm God’s calling on my life.
However, God didn’t just use the professors to show me His will for my life. I was heavily influenced through Chapel services, team devotions, and the friends I made while living on campus.

How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?
One of my biggest takeaways from Evangel is the realization that every occupation can be our ministry field. Regardless of your major, regardless of where God takes you, that you are “called” to be a light in the darkness to those around you. We are called to live our lives in a way where others know there is something different about us and they long to know what that difference is. Evangel helped prepare me for ministry in my occupational field.
I have been blessed to have men of faith as my assistant coaches. Together we have worked hard to develop the young men we coach into men with character. We’ve done our best to take advantage of the opportunities presented to us to help shape and mold the athletes we spend so much time with. I pray every seed sown will produce a harvest one day.

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?
Life seems so unpredictable as we go through college. There are so many big decisions to make that it can seem overwhelming. Most of us would like to know exactly where God is taking us but that isn’t always the way He works. My advice to those students entering the workforce is to trust wholeheartedly that He is guiding you. To surrender your will to His will and watch as He takes you down the path in which you have the greatest opportunity to be a light in the darkness and minister to others.

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?
I would like to know what qualities they believe help make a successful employee. Of course there are many answers to this question but I’d be looking for responses that shed light on the character of the individual. For me personally, I believe a strong work ethic, integrity, and loyalty are qualities that help individuals succeed regardless of their profession. Work ethic is important because you have to be the person that will go above and beyond in the workplace, the person that can be counted on not only to do the job sufficiently but to do more than what is required. Integrity allows those you work for to trust you and trust is a vital component of an employer/employee relationship. And finally, loyalty. Loyalty is needed more and more these days. We need people in the workforce who continue down the path God has given them even when things aren’t going their way. When things are tough do we have the loyalty to continue to do our best, to go above and beyond, and to support those that need us the most during those times.