From one scholar to another
“My whole life has revolved around children,”
Carson says. He’s not just talking about his career.
In 1994 he and his wife, Candy, set up the
Carson Scholars Fund to inspire academic success.
The fund was a reaction to school trophy cases
filled with awards that recognize athletic achievements while honor students rarely receive that kind
Carson scholars are nominated based on
academics and community service. Each winner
receives a trophy for his or her school’s trophy
case and $1,000 that is invested to pay for the
student’s college education. To date more than
4,300 scholarships have been awarded to students
in 42 states.
Carson reports proudly that their experience
shows that with a Carson scholar in the classroom,
“the whole class improves.”
Recognizing the part that reading played on
his path to success, Carson also started the Ben
Carson Reading Project. Nearly 50 reading rooms
have been created with the goal of creating life-
“Kids might think it’s more exciting to play
video games or watch movies, but once you start
reading you find out it’s much more exciting to
read,” he says. “With [video games and movies]
someone’s already used their imagination.”
Carson, who turned 59 in September, says he’s
slowed down a lot in the past few years. After all, he
says, when he started in pediatric neurosurgery, he
“was the department.” Now he has several colleagues to share the workload.
He also eased up his pace a little after being
treated for prostate cancer in 2002. Nonetheless, he
still handles 300 to 350 patients a year.
The father of three sons, all in their 20s, Carson
also sits on several nonprofit boards and a handful
of corporate boards, such as Kellogg’s and Costco.
Costco CEO and founder Jim Sinegal says he
PHOTO COURTESY OF IMAGINE THAT.NE T
knew the day he met Carson
that he wanted him on the
board of directors. That was
at a charitable event in Seattle
where Carson spoke frankly
about his life. “Despite a tough
childhood, he clearly did not
see himself as victim,” Jim
says. “He was and remains impressive and inspiring.”
Jim notes Carson has
made valuable contributions
to the board and adds, “I am
privileged to know him and to
be able to seek his advice.”
Carson has an average of
one speaking engagement a week, often more
around the holidays and commencement season.
On top of everything else, he’s working on
his next book. While his previous books have been
more on the inspirational and motivational side, the
next title (available in 2011) will offer his thoughts
on America’s forefathers and their skills as leaders
Physician, author and public speaker, Carson
easily shrugs off questions of how he’s been able to
do so much. His philosophy? If you have something
to do, do it. You can’t get wasted time back.
That said, he tells The Connection that he sees
himself retiring sometime in the next five years.
One of his main goals is learning to play the organ.
He sees himself practicing for six hours a day “and
becoming very good at it.”
Chances are he’ll play some pool too, although
he’s already mastered this, his favorite pastime.
Despite having so many accomplishments
under his belt, Carson’s greatest wish is for people
to think of him as someone who used his life to
encourage people to excel. “That’s much more
important than the surgeries,” he says. “Success gave
me a platform. No one wants to hear what you have
to say if you haven’t accomplished anything.” C
Above: Ben Carson has
made international headlines
with his pioneering work in
Below: Student stars pose
with Ben Carson and his wife,
Candy, co-founders of the
Carson Scholars Fund.
PHOTO COURTESY JOHNS HOPKINS CHILDREN’S CENTER
“My whole life has