In Fall of 2015, Alexis Cain made history when she became the first woman with down syndrome to rush a Panhellenic Conference (PHC) sorority at Murray State University. The story and video of Alexis accepting her bid into Alpha Sigma Alpha’s sisterhood went viral, and the world fell in love with her sweet smile and joyous attitude. She made history again in May of 2016 when she was the first woman to graduate from the Murray State SHEP Program, an initiative that offers students with intellectual disabilities Pell Grants and Federal Work Study, even if they do not have a regular high school diploma. Instead of sitting around and interviewing for jobs like most postgraduates, Alexis took her future into her own hands and begin working to open her own clothing boutique, and appropriately named it after her sorority’s mascot, Ladybugs Boutique. For all of her amazing accomplishments, Alexis is as down to earth as she can be, and I’d even dare to say she is not aware of just how extraordinary and inspirational she is not only to people with intellectual disabilities but to women around the world. Alexis shows us all that anyone with a dream and a positive attitude can accomplish anything they set their mind to. Learn more about this amazing “Woman Who Works” below.
Name: Alexis Cain
Hometown: Murray, Kentucky! Born and raised!
Current City: Murray, Kentucky
Year Born: 1993
Alma Mater: Murray State University
Awards & Recognition: Best Buddies Ambassador,
The first woman to graduate from the Murray State SHEP Program 2015
The first woman to join a Panhellenic Sorority with Down Syndrome
Businesses: LadyBugs Boutique
Hobbies: Shopping, singing, hanging out friends, getting ice cream with friends, and have friends and my Alpha Sigma Alpha sisters over to spend the night and catch up together.
Please describe your life in 3 words…
Exciting, crazy, and awesome
Who would you say is an influential woman to you and why?
Two women that inspire me are members of my ASA family, my “big sister” Tori and my “grand-big sister” Mimi. They are so important to me and I love them very much because they encourage me to do my best and chase my dreams.
What do you think makes a successful leader? And in particular female leaders?
A good leader is someone who has patience, leads a group, keeps people in line, and inspires others! One leader, I think of is the best buddies president, Sarah. She has all of the qualities.
It seems crazy to me that previous to your membership in 2015; there were no was recorded representation of women with Down Syndrome in sororities.Why do you think this is? What advice would you offer to other women with any disability who are afraid to get involved with organizations similar to sororities on their college campuses?
I guess they just didn’t think about it! Maybe they were even too scared to try. I would tell them that they can do anything! If you want to do it, you surely can!
I doubt you anticipated that your story would go viral, or that you would become an inspiration to people around the world when you made the decision to go Greek. What aspects of your life have changed for the better since becoming a media sensation?
My life has changed in so many ways! Well, I have a store of course. I also have made so many friends and gone on so many adventures. I have gained sisters all over the world that I know want me to do my best!
You have been working very hard since you graduated in May to open your very own clothing store, LadyBugs Boutique. What inspired you to open a fashion retail-related business? What do you hope to achieve most in this endeavor?
I wanted to open a business because that’s what you do after college! You get a job, or open a business and find your place in the world. I wanted to make a place where women of all shapes and sizes could come in and shop, and feel beautiful.
While programs to help assist individuals with disabilities to achieve higher education have grown in the last ten years, there are still very few options. During your time at Murray State, you participated in such a program called Best Buddies. What do you think needs to change on college campuses to make such programs more accessible? Why do you think such programs are so important?
Best Buddies is important to me because I get to be a leader in the organization and lead my peers. I also got to go to a leadership conference to be a better leader on my campus and in my community. I have become a better person and met so many friends through best buddies. These programs are important because they help people find themselves.
You are so positive all the time and radiate joy. What do you say is the key to happiness?
The key to happiness is to make better friends and chase your dreams.
What do you think the world should know about women with down syndrome?
I believe they need to know that we are different, but not so different from you! We can achieve anything with a good mindset!
You have accomplished much more in your few years of life than most people who live 100 years. What goals do you have for the next decade?
I want to keep up the store, and maybe even bring my very own line into the store that I can design. I want to change the world for other women with down syndrome.
To support Alexis’ business fund, you can donate here!
Make sure you like LadyBugs Boutique on Facebook to keep up with Alexis and get business updates.
Do you know a “Woman Who Works” that is making a difference in the world, dominating her industry, or has an inspirational story tell? Contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) so I can feature them.