Renowned Pediatric Neurosurgeon Brings Inspiring “Gifted Hands” Story to MCC

Before Dr. Benjamin Carson became the first person to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head, before he had a TV movie made about his life, before he became known for his “gifted hands” and before he became head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, Ben Carson was headed down the wrong path in life.

But he overcame the challenges of dire poverty, poor grades, low self-esteem and a terrible temper to realize his childhood dream of being a physician. Now Carson brings his motivational story to Waco to speak at McLennan Community College as part of the McLennan Distinguished Lecture Series on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

The event, sponsored by the MCC Foundation, will begin at 5 p.m. with a movie screening of “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” a TNT movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr. Carson will take the stage at 7 p.m. for his lecture, “Gifted Hands.”  Both events will be held in the MCC Conference Center at 4601 N. 19th St. and are free with open seating.

As a child, Carson was inspired by his mother, who – despite having only a third-grade education – challenged her son to strive for excellence. Young Carson persevered and is today a professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he has directed pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for more than 25 years.

Among his career highlights are the first and only successful separation of craniopagus (Siamese) twins joined at the back of the head in 1987, the first completely successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins in 1997 in South Africa and the first successful placement of an intrauterine shunt for a hydrocephalic twin. Closer to home, Carson separated Egyptian conjoined twins in Dallas in 2001.

In 2001, Carson was named by CNN and TIME magazine as one of the nation’s 20 foremost physicians and scientists and was also selected by the Library of Congress as one of 89 “Living Legends.” In 2008, Carson was presented with the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal by President Bush at the White House and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the land.

In 2009, a movie based on Carson’s memoir, “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” premiered on TNT. Carson is also president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments. He has penned four books: “Gifted Hands,” “THINK BIG,” “The Big Picture” and “Take the Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose and Live with Acceptable Risk.”

Carson has been married for more than 30 years to his wife, Candy, and is the father of three sons. And yes, his mother, Sonya Carson, who made all this possible, is alive and well.

After Carson’s presentation at MCC, he will answer questions from the audience and then sign copies of his books. “Gifted Hands” will be on sale at the lecture or may be purchased in advance at the MCC Bookstore.

For more information, go to or call Leslie Garrison at 299-8769

About the McLennan Distinguished Lecture Series

The McLennan Distinguished Lecture Series is designed to bring nationally known speakers to Waco to discuss politics, science, literature and popular culture. The program started in 2004 with Afghan-American author Tamim Ansary. Dr. James Watson, Nobel prize-winner and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, spoke in 2005, and Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” came to campus in 2006. The lecture in 2007 was former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and in 2009 was Alice Schroeder, author of Warren Buffet’s biography. Last year, investigative reporter Lisa Ling spoke on the importance of a global perspective. For more information, visit

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