by Jack Van Zandt
Picture this. You are a young mother with two boys who moved from Tennessee to the inner city of Detroit.
Your husband has left. You dropped out of school in the third grade and are basically illiterate.
Your son is failing, at the bottom of his fifth grade class and being ridiculed by his classmates. He has developed a violent temper. His brother is following suit.
What do you do?
This is where Sonya Solomon Carson found herself, and realized that it was up to her to turn things around.
The television was turned off, replaced with trips to the library where her sons had to check out and read books, and write book reports on two books a week to be submitted to her.
While she couldnt read what her children turned in, she would act like she read the reports and check them off as complete.
She ensured all homework was completed on time. She put all she had into making sure her sons did their best in school.
Working two or three jobs to support the family, her relationship and dependence on the Lord gave her the wisdom and strength she needed during times of trials.
Ridiculed by her so-called friends, she persevered. She understood that education was the way out of poverty, and her sons were going to be educated.
Her motto was, Learn to do your best and God will do the rest.
Long story short, her sons developed a love for reading.
As one of her sons noted, a point came when I realized I wasnt stupid.
He quickly moved to the top of his class. Graduating from high school with honors, he worked to earn money to attend Yale University, the school of medicine at the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University.
Her son, Dr. Ben Carson, became a world renowned neurosurgeon.
Through his love for reading and his God given talents, he led the surgical team that performed the first successful separation of Siamese twins joined at the back of the brain.
This was only the first of many complex surgeries and ground-breaking procedures he developed.
He was recognized as one of the nations 20 foremost physicians and scientists by Time magazine and CNN, one the 89 Living Legends by the Library of Congress, and is the recipient of the Spingarn Medal (the highest honor bestowed by the NAACP), the Fords Theatre Lincoln Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among others.
These awards are a tribute to a woman who decided to do what was necessary for her sons to break out of the poverty and despair in which they were raised.
As she said in Dr. Carsons book, Gifted Hands, she told God, I dont have any friends. I dont have anyone else to turn to. God, youre going to have to be my friend, my best friend. And, youre going to have to tell me how to do things and give me wisdom, because I dont know what to do.
As a result of her actions, many children are enjoying lives they may have never had a chance to live had she not taken action to turn her failing son around.
Sonya reminds us the importance of education, and that faith and family are key to educational success. She is a true hero in my book.