The Boy with the Knife
Imagine This: You’re a young African-American boy growing up in the Midwest in dire poverty. Your mother has only a third grade education and works two jobs to support you and your brother.
As a young boy, you don’t like to read books and you’re always at the bottom of your class. You still remember how in the fifth grade, you were failing almost every subject. And you remember one incident in particular.
Your class has just taken a math quiz, and it was the custom for the students to report their math scores out loud, so the teacher could record the scores in her book.
When you get your quiz back from the girl behind you who has corrected it, you find that you’ve gotten zero out of thirty right.
You try to mumble “none,” hoping the teacher will misunderstand you, and she does. She thinks you said “nine,” and she raves about how wonderful that is until the girl behind you can’t stand it any longer, and she corrects the teacher.
Everybody roars with laughter, and you’re so humiliated that you just want to evaporate into thin air and disappear forever.
It’s about this time when you hear about mission doctors who help people in far-off lands, but your mother reminds you that you can never be a doctor if you don’t start reading books and stop watching so much TV.
You decide to turn over a new leaf, and you begin reading books instead of watching TV. The more you read, the more interesting books become. When you’re reading a book, you can go anyplace, be anybody, and do anything! Within two years, you rise from the bottom of your class to the top.
But your study habits aren’t your only problem. You also have a problem with your temper. You have physically assaulted your mother and two friends. When you stab one of your friends with a knife, you become so upset that you lock yourself in the bathroom and do some very serious thinking. You conclude that if people can make you angry, they can control you, and you decide to never give that control to anyone else.
You still dream of being a doctor, and after high school, you receive an academic scholarship to Yale. After Yale, you attend the Michigan Medical School where you discover your surgical skills. Again, you have a knife in your hand, but this time it is to save lives, not to take them.
You discover your love of neurosurgery and complete your two-year internship at the Johns Hopkins University in just one year and then also complete your four-year residency there.
At age thirty-three, you become the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, the youngest chief of pediatric neurosurgery in U.S. history.
You and your medical team become known all over the world for your amazing surgical procedures which include the separation of Siamese twins who were joined at the back of the head.
Although you got off to a rocky start, you turn your life around, and by working hard and never giving up, you attain your dream of being a doctor.
“By Thinking big, we can transform our world.”
Benjamin Carson, MD (1951- )
Excerpted from Dare to Dream!: 25 Extraordinary Lives by Sandra McLeod Humphrey
For More about Dr. Carson:
Giving Back: Children are very important to Dr. Carson, and he spends tine speaking to schools and community centers–encouraging students to work hard to attain their dreams.
Did You Know: that Ben Carson’s nickname was “Dummy” when he was in school?
Something to Think about: What is your dream?
Willoughby and I hope you enjoyed this week’s true story, and we hope you’ll be back next week for another story to inspire you to DARE TO DREAM BIG!