Angela Cain earned her college degree later in life than most. After starting her career and a family, she turned her focus back to her education, becoming the first in her family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. But she didn’t stop there. Before even completing her undergraduate studies, she was already plotting her next move: an MBA.
Though her path was not direct, each of her decisions led her to her new role at Case Western Reserve University, which she calls “exactly me.” Cain started at the university Sept. 1 as the inaugural executive director of pre-collegiate programs in the Office of Local Government and Community Relations, a position that entails overseeing the university’s youth programming.
While the university’s programming is based in units across campus, Cain’s role involves leveraging partnerships with program leaders to create a strategic vision for K-12 camps, pipeline programs, and school-based and community outreach programs. Cain will work with such initiatives as TRIO Upward Bound, the Provost Scholars Program and the National Youth Sports Program, which engage local youth with the campus community in different ways.
Cain comes to Case Western Reserve well-versed in helping youth achieve their potential. Over the last 24 years, she’s worked on several signature programs and projects at Cleveland Clinic designed for youth, college students and employees. In her most recent role, she worked to address social determinants of health by providing resources to local children and their families.
Prior to Cleveland Clinic, Cain served youth in a faith-based setting at the urging of a pastor who recognized her innate ability to connect with and bring out the best in young people.
Working in a pre-collegiate program aligns well with Cain’s personal experiences, so when someone sent her the job listing for the executive director of pre-collegiate programs, she knew it was a perfect match. She was right.
Now, she expects to use the role to share her experiences navigating academia as a first-generation student and expose students to the possibilities a college education can unlock.
What makes working with youth so special for Cain? The answer comes easily. “Their energy, their thirst for knowledge, for understanding, even for belonging … when I have the opportunity to see the ‘aha’ moments and the light bulb comes on,” she explained.
Just two months into her new role at Case Western Reserve, Cain is already on her way to expanding those opportunities for youth. Learn more about her in this week’s 5 questions.
1. What’s your favorite restaurant in Cleveland?
For breakfast, the Original Pancake House. For lunch or dinner, The Cheesecake Factory, because you can get everything from appetizers to entrees and definitely desserts; they have it all. And then they even have things that are not on the menu, but are kind of “specials” that I know about.
2. If you could go back in time and give your childhood self advice, what would you say?
I’d say to sit at the feet of my elders, and listen to the stories they tell and learn from them. One of the things that I did in March is I asked my mom if it was OK if I interviewed her. I sent her the questions in advance, and then we got on the phone and I did a kind of informal interview with my mom. I learned things about my mom that I did not know. So I would say, sitting at the feet of your elders … they know a lot. And they’ve already traveled the world that we’re trying to journey across.
3. What’s the best way to unwind after a long day?
Have dinner with my husband and binge watch different series. And after—or while we’re doing that— have some kind of dessert.
4. Where would you like to go on your next vacation?
Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic. That would be different for my husband; it would be nice to be able to travel there and do fun things there.
5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?
The people, the programs and the opportunities here.