Topic | Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson Jr.

Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson Jr.


Dr. Benjamin Carson, who is now an internationally-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon working at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, had the humblest of beginnings. Raised by a single mother in an impoverished neighborhood of Detroit, Michigan, the young Ben Carson and his older brother, Curtis, relied not only their mother, but each other for support because of the void left by their father leaving their family. Despite working multiple jobs and raising her two sons in a harsh living environment, Sonya Carson, Ben's mother, was able to be a major driving force in her sons success.

Ben's mother, originally from Tennessee, married a Baptist minister and moved to inner city Detroit, where soon after she divorced and proceeded to raise her sons on her own. She worked almost 20-hour workdays between three jobs just to provide for her sons, while also teaching them about the importance of being self-sufficient. While at work, Ben and his brother attended school where they struggled academically. Ben eventually fell to the bottom of his class and developed a violent and uncontrollable temper because of the ridicule and torment he faced being the bottom of his class academically and the poverty he lived in. Ben's temper began to take control over his life and in one instance he almost stabbed one of his friends over something as little as a radio station. Before leading to more than just after school detention, Sonya Carson intervened and turned around her sons' behavior and academic success by limiting their television time, introducing God into their lives, demanding homework completion before going outside.  She also required her sons to read two books a week and give her written reports even though she herself could barely read. After many weeks, Ben's resentment for this extracurricular assignment turned to a desire to read and learn more, an outcome of his mother’s intervention that contributed to his eventual success and academic progress.

Ben began to delve into science and technical books, and soon envisioned he could become a scientist or physician, which at first seemed like a fantasy or part of his overactive imagination. With this new hunger for learning and interest in science, Ben eventually rose to the top of his class. A few of his teachers took interest in his rise and nurtured his growing interest in the sciences. Soon enough, Ben graduated from high school with honors.  Considering a career in medicine, Ben knew this would be a huge financial struggle for his family. With the economical downturn of the automotive industry in the 1970s, it was hard for Ben to find a summer job in Detroit. After much persistence, Ben was able to secure a scholarship to attend Yale University where he earned a degree in psychology. Ben then enrolled in the School of Medicine at the University of Michigan.  He decided to specialize in neurosurgery, in part, because of superior hand-eye coordination, and completed his neurosurgery residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital. In 1994, Dr. Ben Carson and his team traveled to South Africa to try to successfully separate twins, but both twins died from complications due to surgery. Three years later, Dr. Carson successful separated twin boys from Zambia joined at the head, making it a ground breaking 28-hour procedure because it was the first of its kind. Dr. Carson continued his dedication to children and continued to practice medicine. In 2002, when he developed prostate cancer, he began to reduce his fast pace schedule. He has taken more time to spend with his family and his church with plans to retire from clinical practice in this year (2013).

By Bryan Beaubrun


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