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Gregory Hudson: Surgeon's success testament of faith, perseverance
The Shreveport Times
Published Sunday, June 3, 2007

"There are no great things, only small things with great love."
- Mother Theresa 

There are just too few "feel good" stories aimed at encouraging the best in us these days. Society it seems has such a voracious appetite for the scandalous and the salacious that rarely is there room for the truly important. Lost in our desire for the sensational, we often overlook what is truly inspirational. Because of our cultural lack of focus and priority it is the young people who suffer the most. Last Saturday I was blessed to meet truly one of the world's premier neurosurgeons, Dr. Ben Carson, and found myself enthused and in awe of how he came from the very bottom to the pinnacle of success.

Dr. Carson, a world-renowned surgeon, was in Shreveport to be the commencement speaker for LSU Medical School's graduation. With such a stunning and impeccable biography there is no doubt graduates were challenged to strive for excellence and to go deep within themselves to make the world a better and healthier place. But it was his message at an earlier gathering that was a testament to his willingness to inspire the oncoming generation of leaders. I was present when he spoke to an assembly of young people from several local schools. As I observed his manner, demeanor and deportment I recognized I was in the presence of a great man. The fact that he is black was inconsequential, but that he is such a compelling and impressive man stirred my interest.

Being invited to share the dais with him by Dr. Anil Nanda, chair of the LSU Medical School's Neurosurgery Department, was indeed a privilege because - regardless of age - motivation still matters. And positive motivation is something sorely lacking in many pockets of today's society. From the very first time I heard Dr. Carson tell his story on television years ago, he was someone I saw as a role model and hero for those wishing to overcome life's early and inherent obstacles. Growing up impoverished in Detroit didn't stop him. Being a victim of parental divorce didn't stop him. Being picked on by his peers didn't stop him either. And being told what he couldn't achieve only served to further encourage him.

Perhaps I expected to be mesmerized by his intellectual prowess as he used scientific and medical terms beyond my knowledge level. But Dr. Carson used simplistic language and sometimes humorous conversation to entreat young people to know that they can become successful and that they can overcome even their own faults. The story of his mother who had a third-grade education herself but made him read. It was through reading that he discovered he was capable of learning. He even spoke quite openly and candidly of overcoming a violent temper that could have derailed his dreams. But his faith in God, he says, delivered him from what could have turned out to be a life of incarceration or possibly premature death. As I looked around the room I was also prayerful that someone in that room was moved by his recollection of his life's events to aspire to greater accomplishments.

Dr. Carson views much of what ails America's youth is an infatuation with the trivial and the frivolous. Too much emphasis on spoiled athletes and immaterial entertainers while ignoring the value of education is to the detriment of our children's future. If parents would follow his advice of limiting television viewing and Internet usage, our children would be much better off.

From being labeled a "dummy" by his grade school classmates to being heralded as a leader in neurosurgery is quite an extraordinary journey. However, it's a journey that can be made with hard work, faith and perseverance.

Gregory Hudson of Shreveport is a local minister. Write him in care of The Times, P.O. Box 30222, Shreveport, LA 71130-0222. E-mail to shreveportopinion@gannett.com.

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