Neurosurgeon shares life lessons with Kankakee

Dr. Ben Carson, who successfully separated Siamese twins joined at the head, shares lessons about his life and his experiences as a surgeon with Olivet students and the Kankakee community in the Centennial Chapel on Saturday, Sept. 17. Photo by Morgan McCririe

By Luverta Reames

Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, who helped lead the first successful separation of conjoined twins at the head, shared encouraging life lessons with the Kankakee community at the Centennial Chapel on Saturday, Sept. 17.

As professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. Carson shared many personal struggles he went through before he achieved success.

Kankakee Area Jaycees chairmen Todd Brack and Jeremy Winge invited Dr. Carson to speak to the community. The Jaycees is an organization of active young people improving their leadership abilities and business skills through community service projects and leadership training courses.

“We thought Carson would be the best fit [for this event] to influence the Kankakee community,” Winge said.

Dr. Carson began his presentation by sharing that medicine was the only thing that interested him as a child and being a surgeon was always his dream. “I even liked going to the doctor’s office. Going to the hospital was one of the best things to me,” he said.

His dream was what got him through the trials of growing up in rough neighborhoods with few positive influences.

“It’s important to have a dream because that might be the only thing that drives you through the distress, discouragement and disappointment,” he said.

Carson shared that his grades in school as a child were low, so his mother decided to take a proactive approach toward his education. She only allowed Carson and his brother to watch two or three television programs per week and they had to read books from the library and submit reports to her. While at first it seemed an exasperating task, Carson soon realized the value of a book.

“Between the cover of those books, I could go anywhere and do anything I wanted,” he said.

Carson went on to stress the importance of learning from mistakes as well as encouraging others.

“We must learn to encourage our young people and motivate them for what they can do. We need to get people in the ‘can-do’ mode and out of the ‘what can you do for me,’” he said.

Junior Kelsey McNulty thought Carson’s message was a “kick in the butt” to our world.

“I really enjoyed hearing his story and his thoughts about healthcare and our society today. I thought it was very encouraging and empowering,” she said.

Carson has a great deal of faith and does not stress over his high-pressure job.

“Do your best, and let God do the rest. I realized long ago that He was the neurosurgeon and I was just the hands,” he said.

Many students interested in the medical field attended the event to hear Dr. Carson. But his message was not geared toward those in medicine.

“His life is the perfect example of ‘anything is possible.’ I think the speech was good for not only nursing students, but anyone who wants to succeed,” senior Mignot Abegaz said.

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