Dr. Alexa Irene Canady is known for becoming the first African-American neurosurgeon in the United States. During her undergraduate education, she nearly dropped out due to lack of self-confidence influenced by the discrimination, segregation, and racism against African-Americans during her time period. During this decade, the field of neurosurgery included only 22 board-certified female neurosurgeons, none of whom were African American.However, she overcame those obstacles and went on to become a successful pediatric neurosurgeon in 1981 after graduating from Yale University. Just a few years later, she became the chief of neurosurgery at the Children's Hospital of Michigan.
Dr. Canady retired to Florida in 2001 after working for underserved communities in Michigan. Although she thought she was ready to retire, she still felt the urge to continue practicing medicine. She began to practice part time at the Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Florida.
Dr. Canady's efforts for serving impoverished communities in Michigan and breaking barriers for other black women to pursue medicine completely left an impact on not only her patients, but the surrounding community as a whole. She continues to be an inspiration to many aspiring female physicians of color.