Sonya Carson
Mother of Famous Neurosurgeon, Ben Carson

Dr. Benjamin Carson, the famous neurosurgeon from John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, attributes his mother, Sonya Carson, for the reason for his success in life. “I not only saw and felt the difference my mother made in my life, I am still living out that difference as a man.”

Sonya Carson, mother of Ben, put her total self into making sure her sons did their best in school. Oftentimes, she worked long hours and two to three jobs to keep the Carson family afloat. Her relationship and dependence on the Lord provided her with the wisdom to raise her boys to graduate from high school, college, and become successful
men. She did this while living as a single mom in the inner cities of Boston and Detroit.

Sonya Carson’s life motto is: “Learn to do your best and God will do the rest.” She put this motto in practice for herself to motivate her while raising her sons. And, she used her philosophy of life to motivate her children to succeed in life.

A woman with only a third grade education, and who was raised in various foster homes, Carson needed to learn how to work hard to survive in a life that was surrounded by poverty, despair, and single motherhood. Sonya Carson married at 13 years old to Robert Carson, who was 15 years older than she. He rescued her from her home life of
poverty and abuse. Robert Carson was attentive to Sonya, treating her like his “little china doll,” until they had children. Afterward, he became secretive and neglectful— not often coming home, and having whispered conversations on the telephone. When Ben was eight years old and his brother, Curtis, was 10 years old, Sonya left her husband and Detroit. She and her sons moved to Boston to live with her sister and brother-in-law, William and Jean Avery.

Her life motto served her well while raising her two sons, coping with anxiety and depression, and trying to make ends meet. Sonya Carson chose God because “I don’t have any friends. I don’t have anyone else to turn to. God, you’re going to have to be my friend, my best friend. And, you’re going to have to tell me how to do things and give me wisdom, because I don’t know what to do.” (p. 45)

This relationship with God gave her the wisdom to put boundaries around Curtis and Ben. After Ben brought home an unsatisfactory report card in fifth grade, she made house rules to enable the boys to become better students. She restricted their television viewing to two programs per week. They were required to visit the library each week
and to pick two books to read. Then, Curtis and Ben needed to write a book report for each book that was read. Afterward, the boys were required to hand in their book reports to their mother. Carson insisted on the book reports, library visits, and restricted television viewing because “… they were not living up to their potential.”

Her perseverance in their education paid off. Ben Carson’s grades began to improve during the second half of fifth grade. He went on to succeed in school. He graduated from high school and later from Yale University. In 1987, Dr. Benjamin Carson became a world-renowned neurosurgeon, leading a team to remove two Siamese twins who were
joined at the back of the head. At that time, the removal of the twins was a groundbreaking surgery that was successful. Since then, he has co-authored three books about his life called Gifted Hands; Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence; and The Big Picture.

In conclusion, Sonya Carson overcame hardship, poverty, single motherhood, and depression to work hard to raise two sons in the inner city. In turn, these boys grew up to be successful men, as she believed they would be, because she lived out her motto, “Learn to do your best. God will do the rest.”

Sources: Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story by Dr. Ben Carson with Cecil Murphy; Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence by Dr. Ben Carson and Cecil Murphy; and The Big Picture: Getting Perspective on What’s Really Important in Life by Dr. Ben Carson with Gregg Lewis.
Wendy Komancheck is a professional tutor and writer. Komancheck has experience tutoring all grade levels in a variety of subjects, including teaching grammar and writing courses to homeschooled high school students. She writes for local, regional, and consumer magazines and newspapers. She lives in Ephrata with her husband, two
sons, and a Basset Hound. Check out her blog at: