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Michelle LlamasStaff Writer

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Michelle is a writer, researcher for Drugwatch. She is also the host of Drugwatch Podcast. She uses her natural curiosity and love of the written and spoken word to provide a service to people who are looking for answers.

Whether it is explaining complicated surgeries, translating complex clinical studies or telling the real stories of people who have suffered because of the negligence of pharmaceutical and medical device companies, she strives to empower patients to take charge of their healthcare and be informed consumers. Her work has been published online and in print in peer-reviewed medical journals, including the Journal of Palliative Medicine. She also wrote for the Harvard College Global Health Review and has appeared as a guest on a number of podcasts and radio shows.

Michelle was born half a world away on the sunny, tropical island of the Philippines. As a young girl, she immigrated to the United States, first to California and then to Florida, and becoming an American citizen was one of the most precious and moving moments of her life.

Ever since she could remember, she was always drawn to the art of storytelling and anything having to do with the imagination. She began writing several stories beginning at the age of 10 and dreamed of writing a "great American novel" and joining the ranks of other literary greats.

After graduating in the top percentile of her high school class, she attended the University of Florida on full scholarship. But, in the interest of exploring different careers, she left college and spent several years as a legal assistant for Bogin, Munns & Munns – a large plaintiff's law firm in Orlando. It was here that she developed a desire to be an advocate for consumers and a deep respect for the legal system, whose job it is to protect them.

However, it wasn't long before she missed her first passion: writing. When an opportunity presented itself for her to work for a national real estate magazine, she took it. As soon as she saw her first story published, she never looked back. She spent the next several years honing her craft and writing for magazines in Orlando, Los Angeles and Atlanta. She also traveled the country as a representative of the magazine at trade shows and conventions. Michelle's average day involved supervising magazine photoshoots, meeting with clients, reporting on local events and attending industry functions.

There was still something missing, however.

Michelle's ultimate goal was to be able to make a difference with her writing. So, she decided to attend the technical writing program at the University of Central Florida (UCF). Here, she took complex information and distilled it into a form that was accessible and helpful to the reader, while still participating in creative projects. When award-winning author Judith Ortiz-Cofer visited the campus, Michelle's painting based on Ortiz-Cofer's memoir was presented to the author. The painting now has an honored place in the author's Georgia home.

During her last semester, she interned at the UCF Office of Diversity Initiatives. She took on a project to develop materials that would help teachers combat bullying in schools and represented UCF in the first ever Anti-Bullying Summit at the The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida. After graduating with a degree in English – Technical Communications, she worked for an instructional design company. She wrote and edited instructional content for several online universities on all topics from management to nursing.

When she joined the Drugwatch team in 2012, Michelle realized her goal of combining two of her passions: writing and advocacy. Each day she comes to work knowing that her talents are being used to educate and help people make a difference. In addition to writing, she spends her time sculpting (a garden gnome now occupies a prominent place in her best friend's yard), drawing, exploring and living.

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