Last in a series of BJU senior profiles. Students were recommended by academic deans or department chairs.
Premed major Anne Nguyen has been a part of the BJU family since K5.
Interactions her unbelieving parents had with alumni, faculty and staff after emigrating from Vietnam to Greenville encouraged them to enroll Nguyen at Bob Jones Academy. “Their goal was for me to get a great education and grow to be an upstanding citizen, so they did not expect me to get saved during middle school as a result,” she explained.
Her younger self had no idea of the things to come, but she would find comfort in the God she met at BJA.
An Introduction to Medicine
Nguyen’s interest in medicine began when her brother was born in the family living room as she got ready for school. “We lived in a somewhat out of the way neighborhood at the time, so the ambulance was late,” she explained. “I was absolutely traumatized by the experience and burst into tears the moment I got to school.” But as Nguyen grew to know her pediatrician, her interest in medicine increased.
Though no one in her extended family worked in the medical field, the Lord opened doors for Nguyen. She volunteered with local medical facilities and participated in Prisma Health’s MedEx Academy for high school students. Personal health struggles and even losing family members to illness “reaffirmed for me that medicine with its triumphs and its limitations is the field for me,” said Nguyen.
As she searched for potential universities, Nguyen realized she had a vague idea of Christianity’s key doctrines, “but I did not think that I could have provided a strong biblical reason for why I believe what I believe.” She chose BJU for its Premed/Predent program and its biblical foundation.
A Bump in the Road
Before her first semester of college, Nguyen was diagnosed with hypothyroidism — a condition that can cause extreme fatigue and depression among other symptoms. Despite taking medication, her symptoms did not stabilize until her sophomore year. She struggled with depression and apathy while balancing premed classes.
“I have always been very put-together and I liked having everything seemingly under control, but through my first two years of college God wrenched control out of my hands and forcibly humbled me about my limitations and my shortcomings,” she said.
In retrospect, Nguyen recognized God was gnawing at her pride, preparing her for another trial. The summer before her junior year, her dad had a stroke that left him unable to work, making Nguyen’s mother the sole breadwinner. “We couldn’t afford therapy, and tensions began rising in the home as my dad and mom grew frustrated at each other,” she said.
Six months later, her mom passed away from a brain aneurysm. Suddenly, Nguyen was not only grieving her mother but taking her place as caretaker of both her father and younger brother and bringing home the only income. “I had to step into shoes I wasn’t ready to and didn’t want to fill,” she said. “For a while, my dream of becoming a doctor seemed impossible.”
But God taught Nguyen that his goodness is faithful. While she grieved, the love and help of her church and college family flooded her life.
“The first month, I ran out of space in my fridge and oven for all of the food that people brought to my home,” she said. Dr. Marc Chetta, premed program coordinator, remembered how “(Nguyen’s) classmates thought so much of this ‘Dorcas’ amongst us, that they took up a love offering for her that enabled her to stay at BJU and finish that spring semester.”
A Blessing to Others
Nguyen learned more from her college years than she ever imagined she could because of trials. The Howell Memorial Science Building became a second home “primarily because I knew that the faculty there are more than willing to support me every step of my journey,” she said.
Through his Pharmacology class, Dr. Brian Vogt was a testimony of quiet and steady faith in God and His Word in action.
Dr. Amy Tuck, who taught an Immunology class, “pushed me to work hard and to do my best but be wise about how I spend my time so that I don’t overextend myself,” said Nguyen.
Through Developmental Biology, Dr. Derrick Glasco challenged her to study both scientific and biblical data and take her own standpoint on the beginning of life and the subject of human sex and gender.
Nguyen also appreciated Dr. Amy Hicks’ care for her students and the way Dr. Mike Gray made her fall in love with one of the most challenging classes she had ever taken. “These people have been such a blessing to me, and I am incredibly grateful to each and every one of them,” said Nguyen.
But she has been an equal blessing to those around her. Her position as a lab assistant in the science building and as peer tutor to underclassmen “has made her an invaluable asset to the Division of Health Sciences and the Division of Natural Sciences,” said Hicks. “Her life shows an evidence of her love for God and love for others.”
Vogt corroborates that Nguyen’s “caring, tender heart toward other people” is evident in the many biology and chemistry study groups she has led.
“Because of her hard work ethic, her tireless concern for others, and her God-given intelligence, I believe that Anne is going to become one of the finest physicians to ever come out of BJU,” said Chetta.
A Future at Medical School
In spite of the struggles of her junior year, Nguyen decided to apply for medical school. “God allowed me to keep my GPA at the end of that semester, and He allowed me to finish the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) that summer well, despite not having studied as thoroughly as I would have liked,” she said.
Nguyen applied to a single school — the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. “Everyone told me not to put my eggs in one basket, but God proved Himself faithful yet again,” she said. At the beginning of her senior year, Nguyen was accepted into her program of choice, the only school she could attend and still care for her family.
When she thought God’s blessings were expended, He gave her even more. “In January, God allowed my father to get access to physical, occupational and speech therapy for about eight weeks at no cost to our family after over a year of trying to get approval for just some physical therapy,” she said.
God’s faithfulness was one of the first attributes Nguyen learned as a child, and it proved to be the attribute that she would live by. “He loved me and was faithful in reaching out to me when I was running full speed in the opposite direction,” she said.
As she prepares for medical school, Nguyen looks forward to seeing the constancy of God’s steadfastness in her life.