Madaline Bowman was lying along the side of the interstate, her eyes fixed on the sky. She tried to move, but couldn’t.
“I knew right there something was wrong,” she said. Strange but helpful faces began to appear over her.
It all happened so fast on that June day in 1985.
Bowman accompanied a friend to Tennessee to tow a car back to her home town of Ridgeville. On the return trip, the pickup truck being used to tow the vehicle blew a tire. The car swerved off the highway and down the grass embankment. The force snapped Bowman’s seatbelt, and she went through the front windshield of the truck.
Bowman fractured two vertebrae in her neck. She was in a circular bed and was spoon-fed by nurses and family members. Her doctors told her she would wear a halo on her neck for six months. Bowman replied, “I’ll give it six weeks.”
Bowman is a quadriplegic, but one shouldn’t feel sorry for her – she doesn’t. “There was never one time that I ever became bitter,” she said of her disability. “It motivated me.”
In 1991, before online classes were available, Bowman enrolled at Charleston Southern University. She traveled to and from Ridgeville, wheeling across campus, taking a full class load. Professors and students encouraged her along the way.
In 1995, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business.
“I always believed that if God allowed me to live, I would fight and do whatever it takes in his will for me to lead a normal, productive life,” she said. “How many people break their neck and don’t survive? There’s a reason he allowed me to survive. I have never questioned the Lord about why.
“I am a firm believer that he is too wise to make a mistake, and he is too just to do anything wrong. God has something bigger and better for me, and I just need to go through the process to receive it. I know if I just hold onto his hand, I don’t have to worry about waking up in someone else’s hands.”
Bowman returned to the classroom in January 2008, this time enrolling in CSU’s master of business administration online program. On May 7, she made her second trip across the stage at the North Charleston Coliseum, this time to accept her master’s degree. - CSU