Current students in the Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute as well as hundreds of members of the public gathered on the Pearl River Community College campus Tuesday to hear world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson speak. The students were given the opportunity for a more intimate setting inside White Hall ahead of the public presentation at PRCC’s Brownstone Center for the Arts.
The Honors Institute Lyceum Lecture Series seeks to host speakers who engage, challenge, provoke, and quite possibly, change lives. Hosting high caliber speakers is made possible by a generous sponsorship from Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation.
VISIT WITH HONORS STUDENTS
Late afternoon had Carson meeting with students in the Honors Institute. This more intimate setting allowed for the students to ask questions both in the group and then with a one-on-one meeting time. His wife, Candy, joined him for the trip to PRCC.
“The highlight of the visit by Dr. Ben Carson was his interaction with the Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute members during the ‘Meet and Greet’ held in the Honors Institute Library,” said Vice President for Planning and Institutional Research/Hancock Campus and Dean of the Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute Dr. Jennifer Seal. “Carson’s personal anecdotes, combined with practical advice, spurred thought-provoking questions from the honors students.
“The amazing success achieved by a hard-working person from meager beginnings inspired students to consider how their academic aspirations may produce positive results for families, communities, and possibly governments.”
Many of the student questions surrounded medicine, both for those considering a career in that field and those curious about both his past groundbreaking surgeries and where he sees medicine going in the future.
“It is amazing to look at advancements in the last few decades,” said Carson. “Neurosurgery today is completely different than when I entered the field.
“People watched shows like The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman with bionic implants. Now we are seeing advancement like this.”
One question asked his favorite reading selections, both in the medical field and classic literature. This opened the door for Carson to discuss the impact reading had on his life. Carson recounted the path from reading for his own interest to that of learning across subjects. Beyond gaining knowledge and becoming a better student, Carson realized that he could use reading to “help him rise above the poverty he hated.”
With a nod to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Carson reminded students that people have the capacity to think and analyze in a way that animals do not. That ability to reason is how we can judge on the content of character instead of a physical distinction like the color of a person’s skin.
Freshman student and Carriere native Hannah Smith was appreciative of the experience.
“Having the opportunity to talk one on one with Dr. Ben Carson has to be one of the most rewarding parts of being in the Honors Institute,” she said. “Listening to him talk about his life experiences within such a small group is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am so grateful to have experienced.”
Grant Holladay, a freshman from Kiln, reflected on the experience and its impact on him.
“To meet someone who persevered despite hardship sets an example to us that conscientiousness and an aptitude to succeed goes a long way,” Holladay said. “What stood out to me was his kindness when he told me ‘I think you’ll do great things.’”
ADDRESSING THE PUBLIC
As Carson walked onto the stage, an enthusiastic crowd gave him a standing ovation.
His talk wove together tidbits from his life with his personal vision of living one’s best life; not just for the individual, but for the country.
He mentioned now commonly familiar stories of events became turning points in his life. Carson realized that through reading he could learn and that he was not a “dummy” as his fifth-grade classmates often taunted. He also had an epiphany as a teen that his temper and outbursts as a youth could land him in reform school, jail or the grave.
Carson struck a chord with the audience when he said, “When God changes your heart, He doesn’t do a paint job. He fixes it for good.”
Along with his weaving of faith and its impact upon his career, Carson also encouraged attendees to “THINK BIG” as a reminder of how to live a life that can have a positive impact on the community. Talent, Honesty, Insight, Nice, Knowledge, Books, In-depth Learning and God are the key reminders that comprise the anacronym.
Carriere resident Donna Herring was one of the attendees who was deeply moved by Carson’s presentation.
“I was truly touched when Dr. Carson talked about getting involved in your community and standing up for what you believe in,” she said. “We are blessed to have opportunities to hear motivational, encouraging leaders like this at PRCC.”
Finally, Carson reminded attendees that, “We are not each other’s enemies. We need to decide what kind of people do we want to be?
“The next time you have your hand over your heart during the National Anthem, remember that we can only be the land of the free if we are the home of the brave.”
ABOUT DR. BEN CARSON
Coming from what many consider humble beginnings, Carson worked his way up the ranks. He was fortunate to receive a full scholarship to attend Yale University and then continued his studies at University of Michigan Medical School, followed by an internship and residency in neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. At the age of 33, he was named Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins where he remained until retirement in 2013.
During his tenure, he performed cerebral hemispherectomies to help control intractable seizures in children, conducted invitro placement of an intracranial shunt for relief of hydrocephalus and then went on to lead a team in conducting the first successful separation of occipital craniopagus conjoined twins.
Carson is President and Chairman of the American Cornerstone Institute (ACI), which emphasizes common-sense solutions to improve the lives of all Americans. He believes America is more an idea than a place—an idea that promotes liberty and justice for all.
Additionally, he and his wife Candy co-founded the Carson Scholars Fund in 1994. The fund supports two main initiatives: The Carson Scholars Program and The Ben Carson Reading Project. While Carson has stepped back from an active role with the Fund, his wife remains in a leadership role.