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Childhood health issues lead to desire to become a doctor

By on January 22, 2021 in ACU Missions, Features with 0 Comments

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biochemistry major bao catteau
Bao Catteau, senior biochemistry major

Photo by Jeremy Enlow

Bao Catteau’s start in life was filled with uncertainty. Now he is certain – he wants to become a physician.

Born in Shenzhen, China, Bao was abandoned as an infant. A police officer found him and placed him in an orphanage, where he was given his name and a place to live. When he was 5 years old, a Texas couple, Todd and Henriann (’86) Catteau, adopted him and brought him home to Denison to join their family of four. The Catteaus had two biological daughters, Melanie and Cina, and later adopted another son from China, Shen.

Because his time in the orphanage left him with untreated health issues that required immediate medical care, some of Bao’s first encounters in the U.S. were with doctors and nurses. Over the next few years, he faced several other medical emergencies, including a broken leg and ruptured appendix in the fifth grade, and a broken arm that required surgery in the eighth grade.

His experiences as a young patient helped crystallize his desire to become a physician himself.

“We had a primary physician who invested in me and my family during those days in the hospital,” he said. “This was when I first began thinking I could see myself being a doctor, the one who cares for people – medically and, hopefully, otherwise.”

His choice to attend ACU was influenced by his mother and his oldest sister, Melanie (Catteau ’12) Hinrichsen, both ACU graduates, “so I grew up knowing ACU was an option.”

As his junior and senior years in high school approached, he said, “there were two things I felt God was calling me to pursue – medicine and missions – and I believed ACU offered the best resources to help me live these out.”

Bao was impressed by the high percentage of ACU students accepted into medical school – nearly twice the national average. But more importantly, “the professors were clear they would invest not only into our academic lives but also our social and spiritual lives,” he said. “And there were so many opportunities to get healthcare experience as well as missions experience.”

Now a senior biochemistry major and Honors student at ACU, Bao participates in Body & Soul, an elite program for future health professionals that allows him to shadow doctors at a local hospital and benefit from special preparation for medical school, such as mock interviews and on-site visits.

He’s also discovered the satisfaction that comes from helping others through missions.

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Bao Catteau on a medical mission trip to Guatemala
Bao Catteau on a medical mission trip to Guatemala

As a freshman, he joined a group of ACU pre-health and nursing students on a trip to Haiti, where he worked with ACU alumni couple Dr. David (’82) and Laurie (Stallings ’81) Vanderpool in their medical clinic and with a children’s ministry.

In 2018, he went to South Africa with three other ACU students as part of a two-month mission internship through ACU’s WorldWide Witness program. There, he worked with the Kingdom DNA ministry and alumni couple Casper (’08) and Ashley (Baird ’07) Steenkamp. Though Kingdom DNA is primarily a sports ministry, Bao also had the opportunity to help with medical, food and construction projects in the community.

Then in 2019, he went on a Spring Break mission trip to Guatemala conducted by Health Talents International, a non-profit organization that has hosted ACU pre-health students for more than 20 years. At its Clinica Ezell, students observe and assist full-time staff with an assortment of medical and dental procedures.

Those experiences combined to help Bao develop his clear vision for the future.

“I believe medicine is the mission field to which God has called me, and through the joyful times and tough times, I want to experience God and share his glory with patients, their families and coworkers,” he said.

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