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Ben Carson overcame his troubled youth in inner-city Detroit to become a gifted neurosurgeon famous for his work separating conjoined twins.
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The poverty he lived in and the difficult times he experienced in school seem to exacerbate the anger and rage.
Determined to turn her sons around, Sonya limited their TV time to just a few select programs and refused to let them go outside to play until they'd finished their homework. She was criticized for this by her friends,
who said her boys would grow up to hate her. But she was determined that her sons would have greater opportunities than she did.
She required them to read two library books a week and give her written reports, even though with her poor education she could barely read them. She would take the papers and review them, scanning over the words and turning pages. Then she would place a checkmark at the top of the page showing her approval.
At first, Ben resented the strict regimen. While his friends were playing outside, he was stuck in the house, forced to read a book or do his homework. But after several weeks of his mother's unrelenting position, he began to find enjoyment in reading. Being poor, there wasn't much opportunity to go anywhere. But between the covers of a book he could go anyplace, be anybody and do anything.
Ben began to learn how to use his imagination and found it more enjoyable than watching television. This attraction to reading soon led to a strong desire to learn more. Carson read books on all types of subjects and found connections between them. He saw himself as the central character of what he was reading, even if it was a technical book or an encyclopedia. He read about people in laboratories, pouring chemicals into a beaker or flask, or discovering galaxies, or peering into a microscope.
He began to see himself differently, different than the other kids in his neighborhood who only wanted to get out of school, get some nice clothes, and a nice car. He saw that he could become the scientist or physician he had dreamed about. Staying focused on this vision of his future helped him get through some of the more difficult times.
Within a year, Ben Carson was amazing his teachers and classmates with his improvement. The childrens' books he read while he was confined to quarters now had relevancy in school. He was able to recall facts and examples from the books and relate them to what he was learning in school. In 5th grade, Ben astonished everyone by indentifying rock samples his teacher had brought to school.
As he recalled several years later, he began to realize that he wasn't stupid. Within a year he was at the top of his class, and the hunger for knowledge had taken hold of him. It wasn't easy in the predominantly all-white school, though. After Ben received a certificate of achievement at the semester break, one of the school's teachers berated the white students for letting a black student get ahead of them academically.
Ben also had several teachers along the way who expressed a strong interest in his success. After he demonstrated his proficient knowledge of rocks in his 5th grade class, his teacher asked Ben to come by the school's lab after classes ended for the day.
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