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Canady

Nation’s first African American neurosurgeon is Commencement speaker

Posted: 04/15/2014

Roosevelt University announced today that Alexa Canady, the first African American woman in the United States to become a neurosurgeon, will deliver the Commencement address and receive an honorary doctoral degree at the University’s 10 a.m. Commencement ceremony on May 2. 

The ceremony is for graduates of Roosevelt’s College of Arts and Sciences and Chicago College of Performing Arts. “Throughout her remarkable career, Dr. Canady has been a leader and trailblazer whose commitment to excellence has improved the lives of thousands of patients with complex medical conditions,” said Roosevelt University President Chuck Middleton.
“Roosevelt University is delighted to have Dr. Canady share her inspirational story with our graduates and to present her with the University’s highest honor, a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causia.”

Dr. Canady’s interest in medicine was sparked at a health careers summer program for minority students while she was attending the University of Michigan.  After graduating from Michigan in 1971 with a major in zoology, she continued on to the university’s medical school where she earned her MD degree.

She initially wanted to be an internist, but her plans changed when she became intrigued by neurosurgery. Despite being discouraged by some for pursuing this career path, she refused to give up and eventually was accepted as a surgical intern at Yale-New Haven Hospital in 1975. After her internship ended in 1976, she moved to the University of Minnesota, becoming a resident of the university’s department of neurosurgery and the first female African American neurosurgery resident in the United States.

From 1985 to 2001 Dr. Canady was on the faculty of Wayne State University School of Medicine, Department of Neurosurgery, and was awarded an endowed chair position in 1998. She served as chief of neurosurgery at Children's Hospital of Michigan from 1987 to 2001. Dr. Canady joined Sacred Heart Medical Group in Pensacola, Fla. in 2004 where she is a pediatric neurosurgeon. Her medical interests are hydrocephalus, congenital spine abnormalities, skull abnormalities and brain and spinal tumors. She is a consultant to the Food and Drug Administration and former chairman of the Neurological Devices Panel of the FDA's Medical Devices Advisory Committee.

Dr. Canady has received numerous professional recognitions, including being named Woman of the Year by the American Women’s Medical Association in 1993 and being inducted into the Michigan Woman’s Hall of Fame.