Press Club Members Hear Ben Carson at Maryville

Maryville University kindly reserved 30 seats for  Press Club members to hear renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson, M.D. speak on Tuesday, Nov. 30.  Members were treated to a talk from Carson that was equally poignant, witty and inspirational.

Carson grew up in Detroit in hopeless poverty with a single mother. With very few resources and low grades, the odds were stacked against Carson from the time he was a child. However, instead of wallow in his dire circumstances, Carson turned his life around - with an assist from his mother. When she wasn't busy working, Carson's mom made him and his brother read two books a week and submit written book reports to her, despite her low literacy level. Soon after, Carson went from worst to first in his class and began dreaming of starting a career in the medical field.

"The person most in control of your life is you," Carson said.

Fast forward 50 years, and you see a man who personifies the American dream. Carson became the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital at 32, performed groundbreaking 22-hour surgery (with a team of 70 other surgeons) on Siamese twins at 37 and was awarded the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President George Bush in 2008.

He is also the author of several books, one of which, "Gifted Hands," was adapted to a TNT movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr. (He had to bring his energy level way down to play me, Carson said.) The title references Carson's realization that he had incredible eye-hand coordination and excellent three-dimensional reasoning skills. This combination led Carson to change his concentration from psychiatry to neurosurgery.

"All you young people just need to ask yourself," Carson said. "What are you really, really good at? From there you just need to learn how you learn."

Carson's speech was the third of seven special events Maryville has scheduled in its 2010-11 St. Louis Speakers Series. Future speakers include Peggy Noonan, Lisa Ling, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and a debate between Karl Rove and Howard Dean. Email for additional information.