“Dr. Canady is a true pioneer who has devoted her distinguished career to caring for underprivileged children and breaking barriers that stymie access to healthcare.  Her commitment, perseverance and exemplary service to her community are a true inspiration to the field of neurosurgery.”

~ Sharona Ben-Haim, MD, assistant professor of Neurosurgery at the University of California, San Diego

Alexa Irene Canady was born on November 7, 1950 in Lansing, Michigan.  Her parents were professionals; her father, Dr. Clinton Canady, Jr. worked as a dentist and her mother, Elizabeth Canady (née Golden) was a professional educator and national president of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., a Black sorority.  Graduates of Fisk University and civil rights activists, they married on Elizabeth’s nineteenth birthday.  Early in their marriage, Clinton served in World War II and after, graduated from Meharry Medical College.  Elizabeth would be the first African-American elected to the Lansing Board of Education.

The Canady couple strongly and lovingly instilled in Alexa and her younger brother, the values of being educated and industrious so she worked diligently.  Reared outside of Lansing, the Canady children were the only African-American students in their school environments.  Alexa often faced obstacles of racism and sexism that hindered her advancement.  There are even accounts of educators sabotaging her learning and accomplishments, including one who regularly switched Canady’s exceptional work with that of a low-achieving student.  However, Alexa was powerfully encouraged by her parents, especially her mother, to continue to excel.  Nominated as a National Achievement Scholar in 1967, she graduated with honors from high school.

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