I selected Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson, Sr., M.D., as my very important person (VIP) for this week because I believe that we will hear more and more from him. He seemed to “jump onto the world stage” just a few months ago, but he has been recognized for his achievements for many years. He is a great example of the American dream.
Dr. Carson is “a retired American neurosurgeon. Among other surgical innovations, Carson did pioneering work on the successful separation of conjoined twins at the head. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, by President George W. Bush in 2008. After delivering a widely publicized speech at the February 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, he became a popular figure in conservative media for his views on social issues and the government’s role in the health care industry.”
The Academy of Achievement interviewed Dr. Carson in June 1996 and again in June 2002. A transcript of these interesting interviews can be found here with just a bit of the transcript quoted as follows.
Academy: “People often speak of brain surgery as the epitome of something difficult and hard to achieve. When did you first have a notion that you actually wanted to do this?”
Carson: Medicine has always been the only career that I considered, but the aspect of medicine changed [from missionary doctor to psychiatrist to cardiovascular surgeon].” Towards the end of his first year of medical school, he “decided that neurosurgery was going to be the right field for me.”
Dr. Carson grew up in poverty in the inner city of Detroit, Michigan in a single parent home. He was “a horrible student” and failing almost every subject by the time he was in the fifth grade. His mother had only a third grade education, but she took action when she saw his terrible grades. She put him on a strict reading program, insisting that he read two books from the Detroit Public Library and submit book reports to her. She could not actually read the reports, but she acted as though she could and put little check marks on them. In addition, she limited her son’s television viewing to two or three programs each week. When his friends were outside playing, he was inside the house reading his books.
“I hated it for the first several weeks, but then all of a sudden, I started to enjoy it because we had no money, but between the covers of those books, I could go anyplace. I could be anybody. I could do anything. And, I began to learn how to use my imagination more because it doesn’t really require a lot of imagination to watch television, but it does to read. You’ve got to take those letters and make them into words, and those words into sentences, and those sentences into concepts, and the more you do that, the more vivid your imagination becomes. And, I believe, that’s probably one of the reasons that you see that creative people tend to be readers, because they’re exercising their mind.”
From his childhood dream of becoming a physician, Dr. Carson became a “full professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and he has directed pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for over a quarter of a century. He became the inaugural recipient of a professorship dedicated in his name in May 2008…
“Some career highlights include the first separation of craniopagus (Siamese) twins joined at the back of the head in 1987, the first completely successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins in 1997 in South Africa, and the first successful placement of an intrauterine shunt for a hydrocephalic twin. Although he has been involved in many newsworthy operations, he feels that every case is noteworthy – deserving of maximum attention. He is interested in all aspects of pediatric neurosurgery and has a special interest in trigeminal neuralgia (severe facial pain) in adults.
“Dr. Carson holds more than 60 honorary doctorate degrees….
“Today, Dr. Carson and his wife, Candy, dedicate themselves to expanding the reach of the Carson Scholars Fund. Their dream is to name a Carson Scholar in every school within the United States.”
Dr. Carson obviously reached great heights as a physician but has now retired from his medical profession. He is speaking out more and more on political issues and may one day seek political office. I believe that he could be an outstanding President of the United States.
I first became aware of Dr. Carson after he delivered “his headline-grabbing speech” at the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2013. He delivered his speech just a few feet away from where President Obama sat, but he did not seem concerned about how or whether the President would accept his words. He apparently was not concerned about the “unspoken rule that African Americans should refrain from criticizing Obama” because he spoke bluntly about “a plethora of social and political issues from a conservative perspective.”
Having worked in the healthcare field long enough to know how Obamacare would affect Americans, a recent post on Facebook quotes Dr. Carson as saying, “We keep delaying things. Why don’t we just delay the whole bill permanently and come up with a real solution that really is affordable and that really will take care of everybody?”
I believe that Dr. Carson is a man to keep our eyes on whether or not he runs for political office. He has actually experienced poverty, and he has actually made great achievements. He has set a great example for all of us.