Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Dr. Benjamin Carson ’73

When Dr. Benjamin Carson ’73 was an inner-city grade-schooler, his nickname was “Dummy.” On June 19, Carson, a neurosurgeon, philanthropist, author, and motivational speaker, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He credits his mother, Sonya, with turning his life around. When he was in fifth grade, she “put us on this reading program,” Carson recalled in a 2002 interview, “and said we had to read two books apiece from the Detroit Public Library and submit to her written book reports, which she couldn’t read, but we didn’t know that.”

Carson went on to Yale, to medical school at the University of Michigan, and to a career in pediatric neurosurgery. He has developed therapies for controlling brain seizures and pioneered surgical methods to separate conjoined twins. His foundation has awarded millions of dollars in scholarships to students from fourth grade on, and he has spoken to countless children and adults about his experiences. And lest you think he doesn’t have a sense of humor, he made his film acting debut in a cameo for the 2003 Farrelly Brothers comedy Stuck on You: he was the surgeon who parted conjoined twins Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear.

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