John Placide (’18)

For the past seven years, John Placide has called Abilene home.

This will change this summer (2018) as the former Cooper High School student takes his talents to Houston, where he’ll study at the John P. and Katherine G. McGovern Medical School, part of the University of Texas system.

He’s not sure yet of any sort of specialty he might pursue, with influences still able to sink their talons deep in his brain. He has a love for ophthalmology, but he saw a different possibility emerge last summer when he completed an internship in Dallas working with doctors who cared for the homeless.

When he’s finally done he’s unsure what he’ll do with it all.

“I know I need to work a little bit in the U.S.,” Placide said. “I’ll need to establish myself. But I’m also considering becoming involved with Doctors Without Borders.”

Placide, 23, is used to finding himself in new and unfamiliar surroundings. He was born in Burundi, Africa, but his family quickly moved to be with his grandmother in Uganda.

“My mother and father were educators, but in the French system,” Placide said. “They wanted me to learn in the English system.”

It was in Uganda that Placide lost his father, John Bosco, when he was just five.

He was in Uganda until he finished the equivalent of the American school system’s fifth grade. For his middle school years, the family relocated again, this time to Zimbabwe.

After a short holdover in South Africa, they traveled to the United States, which has been home for Placide, his mother, Cecelia Niyigena, and younger brother Clement Placide.

After calling Cooper High his school for a year, Placide found his way to Holland Medical High School in his junior year, where he developed his love for the medical field and focused his attention on becoming a doctor someday.

When he finished high school, Placide had two schools to consider: Baylor University and ACU. Living in Abilene, he consulted with individuals about the ACU pre-med program and heard nothing but great things.

Combined with a feeling that ACU would provide him much more face-time with his professors and an easier learning environment, the decision became easy.

Once he arrived, he said, he found out those consultations about ACU’s program were spot on.

Now that’s he’s winding down his time at ACU, he said there have been some wonderful classroom experiences.

From his four years participating in research through the biology department to challenging nights studying for immunology examinations and from understanding organic chemistry to gaining a new perspective through his philosophy and Bible classes, Placide said he’s enjoyed what ACU has offered him.

But one of his biggest successes in life so far hasn’t been associated with the school, but rather with an organization he decided to become a part of simply after seeing a television commercial in 2014.

Placide is a Big Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. He’s been helping his Little Brother, 12-year-old Jay, any chance he can.

“It seemed like such a nice thing to do,” Placide said. “I wanted to befriend someone who (needed it).”