• Hearts of service: Three Baylor nursing students were among the first on the scene in West

    Czech Stop - West explosion

    Last Wednesday, two Baylor nursing students and one recent graduate were driving back from Waco to Dallas following ROTC when they decided to grab dinner at a popular I-35 stop just north of Waco. (You probably see where this is going already.)

    The trio — seniors Ali Nordlander, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Ashlyn McNeely, of Pampa, Texas, and alum Quianna Samuels, BSN ’12, of San Antonio — stopped at the Czech Stop in West just minutes before a nearby fertilizer plant exploded. They immediately ran more than a mile toward the mushroom cloud and were among the first responders to start pulling the elderly, many of them bedridden, from West Rest Haven, a nursing home that was devastated by the blast.

    Dressed in their ROTC fatigues, the students’ presence commanded respect in the middle of what Ashlyn calls “complete chaos,” and those able to help listened as the trio gave directions to transport the injured to safety. These brave young women set up a triage area and treated countless injuries over the first four hours of the West tragedy as it all unfolded on national television, leaving only after those in the worst medical condition had been picked up and taken to hospitals.

    In addition to the university’s response, Baylor students and alumni have shown initiative in finding their own ways to rally for West. A few examples:

    • A group of Christian artists (including Baylor alums Laura Cooksey, BM ’01, Jillian Edwards, BA ’11, Shaun Groves, BM ’97, and Robbie Seay) put together Songs for West, a compilation album that is free for download but for which listeners can leave tips; all money received will go to Baylor’s West relief fund. (The album eventually generated more than $7,000 in support.)
    • Friday, members of Alpha Phi Omega held a bake sale in the SUB to raise money for the people of West.
    • Jesus Said Love, a “ministry to the marginalized” led by Baylor alums Brett (BA ’98) and Emily (BA ’99) Mills, has adopted one family that lost everything in the explosion (including any keepsakes they had from a baby that died a year ago) and is working to provide shelter, clothing, food, furniture, etc. (in addition to pastoral care).

    Sic ’em, Bears, for serving so well!

    You might also be interested in:
    Baylor community rallies for West, Texas, as Diadeloso becomes DiaDelWest (April 2013)
    Memorial service on Baylor campus honors fallen heroes from West explosion (April 2013)
    * How the Baylor family responded tragedy in West, Texas (Baylor Magazine, Summer 2013)

    Baylor family’s $290,000 donation will help West homeowners move forward (July 2013)
    Baylor football scored points for West on record-setting night (Oct. 2013)
    Alum’s book captures first responders’ stories from West (April 2014)

    (Story last updated April 2016; photo shared on Twitter by @AndyBartee)