It was the devastating event that she doesn’t remember, yet it is the tragedy that is woven into the story of her life.
On April 19, 1995, Madison Naylor was a 6-month-old baby staying at the YMCA daycare next to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. When a bomb went off that morning, she lived, remarkably without injury. She was too young to recall the bombing first-hand, but with each year of her life, she has gained insight into the event and the way it changed people in Oklahoma and beyond. Today, as a first-year medical student at the OU College of Medicine, she brings that piece of her story with her as she learns about a profession that will allow her to provide healing and comfort to others.
“Even though I don’t remember the bombing, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know about it,” Naylor said. “I remember when I was very young, I had a feeling that I had been really close to death, and I remember how I was affected by seeing the children’s chairs at the bombing memorial. I hope I can be something good that came from something so horrific. I hope I can make Oklahoma proud.”
In 1995, Naylor’s parents were working on the campus of the OU Health Sciences Center, her father, Mark Naylor, M.D., as a dermatologist and her mother, Carla Naylor, as an employee of the College of Pharmacy. When her parents learned what had happened downtown, they rushed to find their daughter. Her mother discovered her being held by a woman on the street who she didn’t know. Passersby had helped YMCA employees evacuate the babies from the heavily damaged building.
As she grew up, Naylor’s parents gradually told her more and more about the bombing, and she searched out and found her name on the survivor’s wall at the outdoor memorial. She is an only child, and had come to understand the fear her parents faced at the thought of losing her.
Because her father is a physician, Naylor was familiar with medicine and often thought she wanted to follow in his footsteps. But when she began volunteering at a hospital during high school, she felt like she “saw” medicine for the first time.
“I saw the team dynamic and I knew it was a career where you could really impact people’s lives,” she said. “It’s always been important to me to have a job that I love.”
Naylor went on to earn a degree in biology from Baylor University and began applying to medical schools. After she interviewed with the admissions board at the OU College of Medicine, she went to the bombing site to revisit the museum and the memorial. She found her name on the wall and reflected on the place whose stories had become hers. When she later accepted the invitation to attend the OU College of Medicine, she knew would be joining a campus whose faculty and staff also bear scars from the tragedy.
“I know the bombing is still a part of people’s lives here,” she said. “It’s humbling to be associated with such a tragic event. I hope that I can be a positive face going forward.
“I just want to be the kind of person who leaves the world a better place than I found it,” she added. “I know that, sooner than I’ll even want, I won’t be able to save everybody I encounter in medicine. But I want to know that I gave 110 percent for every patient. I think the best doctors are the ones who aren’t just going through the motions; they really care and they take personally what their patients are going through. That’s the kind of doctor I want to be.”
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