A young cancer doctor in Lake Charles is proving age truly is just a number. The now 29-year-old never graduated high school, because he was accepted to Purdue University at the age of 11.
Dr. David Chang is a radiation oncologist at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital. He has a passion for learning and really always has. "My parents always told me these stories of how they knew I was smart even when I was a baby," he said.
Of course, this Indiana native had not yet pinpointed the medical field as a career when he was a toddler. "Like any little boy, it was about dinosaurs and outer space," said Dr. Chang.
Dr. Chang is the son of a Purdue engineering professor father and a radiation oncologist mother. Those smart genes definitely transferred to this whiz kid in the classroom and at home. "My mom would buy me various books or just go over various scientific subjects," he said, "then I would learn stuff at my own pace."
Dr. Chang first took the SAT when he was eight years old. Next came the grade skipping! "Well it was something like 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th and 12th grades," he said.
So when he was just 11 years old, Dr. Chang decided to apply to his dad's school, Purdue, and study molecular biology. He got in, and this pre-teen student quickly made waves on campus. "I remember several times going to the cafeteria to grab lunch and there would be some middle school group all in a big clump with a bunch of teachers and a yellow school bus and someone would be like, 'Hey, hey kid! your school's over there,'" he said, "but no. No it's not."
Dr. Chang graduated from Purdue at age 15 with honors. Then it was grad school at 16, a masters degree at 18, and a year off to get a different certification. "I wound up learning how to fly," he said.
This newly trained pilot decided medical school was next.
While Dr. Chang enjoys researching medicine, it was the patient care that he craved. "I just always learn more towards human interaction, opposed to pipetting into little plates," he said.
Now this young doctor is doing what he loves and he keeps the care in his family with mom flying in from Florida to help out. "I've already had one vacation here where my mom was here and covering my clinic, and it's just really convenient that it all works out that way," he said.
Dr. Chang's mother is a traveling radiation oncologist. His father has retired from Purdue and shares his son's love for aviation, even building his own plane. He has one brother, who is an artist.