Alexa Canady

by Carter from San Diego

William B. Sprague once said, "Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking." Sprague's message within this quote is proactively essential; furthermore, one must take what they want, because it will not just be given.

Alexa I. Canady is a perfect example of a person who wasn't afraid to go after what she wanted most. Canady grew up in a time period fraught with ethnic prejudice, and was constantly belittled. Her continuous work for equality became her legacy, and she went down in history as the first African-American neurosurgeon. A true hero must possess the will to succeed in any circumstance and disregard what negativity is thrown their way. As proven by her success, Canady possess many traits; all of which contribute to her phenomenal character. Between her strong leadership, determination to come out on top, and positive attitude, Canady was able to make a name for herself. Canady is not only an admired and award winning neurosurgeon, but is also a role model for her courageous leadership, compassion for others, and determination in changing society for the better.

Due to her unending leadership ability, Alexa Canady is a true hero. Canady not only succeeded in her field, but she paved the way for other African-Americans to follow in her footsteps. This proved to require a great amount of leadership in reaching her bright future: Canady's character in needing to make the world a better place led her to become, "the first African-American woman to be recognized in neurosurgery" (Alexa I. Canady). This quote shows how Canady was strong enough and enough to pursue an obscure and elite field, not only for herself, but for her posterity. Despite what others may have thought, she continued to lead the way to equality in medicine. One of the most important traits of a leader is humility, and Canady remained a team player: She was quoted stating, ""If you think you are the grand pooh-bah, and deigning to talk to people, then it becomes a relationship of unequals. You can't be the grand pooh-bah without all the people that make a hospital work. Nothing works without everybody. And the patient has the information you need" (Alexa Canady). When talking about being the "grand pooh-bah," she is referring to leaders placing themselves on a pedestal, and condescending to their followers.  Knowing how it felt to be looked down on, Canady became a strong, approachable leader. She was able to do so because she only desired the bettering of society, not furthering her own ambitions. Alexa Canady's hero status is backed by strong leadership, and it is reflected with her actions as not only a surgeon, but an inspiration to those who are afraid to step out of their comfort zone.

Canady's constant compassion while aiding others, especially children, has proven her to be a hero in the eyes of the world. She makes time for children along with young adults and does not only focus on herself as shown in the quote: "Canady said she often made time when mentor programs asked her to take a high school student around for the day. "I do it because it's important," she said in the Free Press interview" (Alexa Canady). Her generous nature allowed others to believe in themselves, and nurtures the next generation of heroes. With compassion, Canady volunteers her time teaching high school students; demonstrating that one must remain caring in order to be successful in work and in life. Canady strived to put the patient's comfort and happiness before hers, and she made the experience for patients she treated more pleasant with her kind-hearted nature: "Surgery is a service business. You provide a service as unobtrusively as possible. But you must be human. In order to provide good quality care, it is so important that patients are able to talk to you and not regard you as some deity above them" (Historical Collections.). Accompanied by her obvious intention to change the world around her, Alexa Canady made history by being a caring, hard-working person. Canady is not only a hero, but an inspiration for ceaselessly assisting others, especially children, in health issues.

Alexa Canady has carved her legacy with sheer determination, and the belief that she can achieve any goal, no matter the obstacle. Although Canady is a beloved neurosurgeon, she faced much discrimination on her way to the top: "Canady was a bright student, and in second grade scored extremely high on a standardized reading test. Her teacher, uneasy, then altered the records to give the high score to a white boy in the class, but was later discovered and fired" (Alexa Canady). Although Canady remained steadfast in her pursuit of knowledge, this experience marred her childhood. Persevering through this ordeal, Canady did not let it phase her and continued to navigate through the bigotry and prejudice. Alexa Canady was determined to make a difference in the lives of children which led her to becoming a dedicated surgeon working long, mundane hours. Eventually, her devotion paid off and she was rightfully honored. To get to the top of her field, Canady had to progress slowly: "She was a clinical professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine" (Alexa I. Canady).Clearly, Canady is a hard-working individual; she mandated that no matter how long it took, she would become the best. Canady certainly understood that in order to get what she wanted; she had to be dedicating her life to medicine, and never give up under any circumstances.  All in all, Canady's determination proved to be one of her strongest weapons whether she was facing cruel discriminated, or working countless hours at a time.

Everything from Canady's leading role in neurosurgery to compassionate acts towards children, where all contributing factors in her achievements not only as a strong charismatic African-American woman, but as a human being. From growing up in a position where her life was thought of as less valuable than a white person, to achieving what others thought was simply impossible, Canady has certainly had her ups and downs. However, she remained steadfast in her beliefs. By being such a fantastic role model, Canady truly inspires me to make a difference in the world for those who have not had the same opportunities and privileges as I have experienced. By example, Alexa Canady has shown me that with trusting my abilities, I, along with everyone else, can reach for greatness with hard work and determination. Paired with courage in achieving the impossible, one may become whatever they so choose. "The greatest challenge I faced in becoming a neurosurgeon was believing it was possible" (Alexa I. Canady). This quote means more than just to set goals by being determined not to give up. To be a hero is to set goals and work diligently to achieve them. In other words, one must be passionate about their dreams in order to have the drive to work hard and achieve them. People must realize praise and goof fortune, come only after one does something monumental, and Canady exemplifies that. With persistence like Canady's, the impossible can become possible, and the possible can become a reality.

Works Cited

"Alexa Canady." Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 28. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Biography In Context. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.

"Alexa I. Canady." Science and Its Times. Ed. Neil Schlager and Josh Lauer. Vol. 7: 1950 Present. Detroit: Gale, 2001.                                                    Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 19 Mar.2013.

"Historical Collections Copyright Information - History of Medicine - National Library of Medicine." U.S National Library of                                                   Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 22 Aug. 2009. Web.21 Mar. 2013. 

"Motivational Quotes Collection." Motivational Quotes Collection. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.


Page created on 4/20/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 1/28/2019 4:18:01 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

U.S. National Library of Medicine - Contemporary African American Academic Surgeons
Project NOVA - Chapter of the NASA Opportunities for Visionary Academics
The Registry - On-line storehouse for African American heritage
The History Makers - The Nation's Largest African American Video Oral Historiy Collection