Dr. Benjamin S. Carson is world renowned as the first neurosurgeon to successfully separate Siamese twins joined at the back of the head - and continues to pioneer life-saving medical procedures as chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore. But, he recalls, he comes from humble beginnings and was once known as the "dummy" of his class.
In an exclusive interview for the Verizon Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series, Carson said his subsequent achievements and professional success are due to the confidence he gained through reading and education.
"I started reading about people of great accomplishment ... and it dawned on me suddenly that the person who has the most to do with what happens in your life is you," Carson said during the conversation with Michelle Shearer, the 2011 National and Maryland Teacher of the Year.
"It's not somebody else," Carson said. "It's not some outside influence ... and that was like somebody lifted a great weight off my shoulder."
During his conversation with Shearer, which is only available in the Verizon Thinkfinity Community section of the Verizon Thinkfinity.org website, Carson also shared an enlightening experience: During surgery, when he opens a patient's skull and exposes the brain, there is nothing about the brain to indicate race, gender, ethnicity or financial status.
"I think what Dr. Carson speaks to is that there's more than just content knowledge that needs to be mastered," said Shearer. "He talks a lot about confidence and being willing to take risks and having the inner strength to really reach beyond."
Al Browne, national director and vice president - education and technology, Verizon Foundation, said: "Dr. Carson is living proof that students can achieve beyond their circumstances. Through the speaker series, and especially Dr. Carson's interview, we hope to motivate and inspire educators to look beyond the surface to reveal and nurture the true potential of each student."
In 1996, Carson started the Carson Scholars Fund, which awards scholarships to deserving students. More than 4,800 scholarships have been awarded to date.
"We know that these students are incredibly bright, Carson said. "We know that they're going to be successful. We know that they're going to be leaders of companies, and we want them to start thinking early on about how you use that to create opportunities for other people."
Carson's interview is the second installment of the Verizon Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series, an online series that enables educators and parents to connect with some of the most inspiring voices in education.
The series is available exclusively to members of the Thinkfinity Community, a virtual home to engaging, thoughtful dialogue on some of today's most challenging classroom issues.
Future Speaker Series installments feature exclusive video interviews with:
- Earvin "Magic" Johnson, NBA legend, chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, and philanthropist - Nov. 1.
- Dr. Chris Dede, Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Harvard's Graduate School of Education - Nov. 15.
- Jason Falls, educator and social media expert - Dec. 6.
Anyone can join the Thinkfinity Community for free at www.thinkfinity.org/community.
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, uses its technology, financial resources and partnerships to address critical social issues, with a focus on education and domestic violence prevention. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 106 million total connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 196,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of $106.6 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.