Republican U.S. presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson stands with his wife Candy as he officially launches his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in Detroit, May 4, 2015. Reuters

With Republican presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson rising in polls around the country and taking first place in the key nominating state of Iowa, Candy Carson’s name has made its way into headlines little-by-little. She’s been compared to Michelle Obama in a not-too-flattering way -- one that some have criticized as being insensitive and racist. But Candy Carson is quite accomplished on her own and has played an important role in her husband’s public life.

Let’s get the Obama comparisons out of the way first. Social media impressively picked up on the obvious similarities between the first family and the Carsons some time ago, noting that they are, of course, both black. From there, Candy Carson’s fashion taste was compared to Michelle Obama’s, who is well known for her voguish public appearance. Photos of the two couples have been juxtaposed online, implying that the Carsons are simply a conservative and less classy version of the Obamas.

Fashion taste aside, Candy Carson has an impressive resume, and her life story started in the same place her future husband’s would: Detroit. The two of them didn’t meet there, however. They met while both attending Yale University in Connecticut, where Carson triple-majored in music, medicine and psychology. After her undergraduate studies, she went on to receive her master's of business administration.

That music degree is one of the more prominent aspects of her now-public life. She is known for playing violin and also for being an accomplished church organist.

Less visibly, she is also in charge of the family’s scholarship fund, the Carson Scholars Fund, which awards scholarships based on academic achievement. The inspiration for the fund, reportedly, was because the Carsons felt that scholarships were awarded too often to individuals for athletic achievement. The goal was to improve the United States’ ranking worldwide in math and science.

Finally, she is said to have pushed back against her husband’s presidential ambitions. She did so until they had grandchildren, and Carson began thinking a lot about the future that they wanted for their children. At that point, she changed her mind, and her husband began his run for president.

Ben Carson's improbable rise to top-tier presidential candidate status began with impressive Republican debate showings. Since those debates, he has steadily moved upward in polls and overtook front-runner and real estate magnate Donald Trump in Iowa Wednesday. Carson's polling in the state was boosted by support from women voters who propelled him to 28 points compared to Trump's 20 percent. In averages of national polls Carson ranks second but is gaining fast. Trump has 27.2 points in those polls, compared to Carson's 21.3.

Follow me on Twitter: @ClarkMindock