Vivian Cain founded the Maria Montessori Academy of Indianapolis in 2001. She has a degree in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration.
However, it was not all bed of roses for Vivian growing up. In fact, for most of her life, she has been a walking billboard for people who are going through a lot of hardships in life.
She was orphaned at 18 months after her mother suffered a stroke and died. Her father was absent all her life and the only pillar of strength she depended on was her 21-year-old sister, Etta, who took the role of both mother and father for Vivian and her other 13-year-old sister.
But despite the poverty, the hardships, and the struggles that befell Vivian and her sisters, Vivian still managed to attend Catholic schools. Often, she was the only black student in her class and she always felt like an outsider who was trying to look (and fit) in.
By the time she was in third grade, Vivian was diagnosed with reading disorder dyslexia. For months she spent three hours after school working on her phonetics. She over pronounced words to help improve her reading and writing skills.
Overtime, her sheer will and focus and inspiring dedication to learning proved that no stone will be left unturned. She became an honor student and then earned her degree in engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. She accomplished all this while working as a nanny and tutor and the earnings from which helped pay her way through college.
From Engineering to Education
After graduation, Vivian began work as a mechanical and industrial engineer. She landed her first job at Cummins Inc., a Fortune 500 corporation headquartered in Columbus, Indiana. Then she later worked at Hillenbrand Industries Inc., a publicly traded company in Batesville but left in 1997 to pursue full time her MBA degree at Indiana University in Bloomington.
At Indiana University in Bloomington, she earned a triple major in International Business, Finance, and New Venture and Business Development, all of which she completed in 2000—the year she was conferred her MBA degree. Vivian also spent a year in China doing consulting work as part of her internship.
But it was during her graduate studies that she dealt with her medical condition and sought treatment at the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana in Indianapolis. It was also during this time when she used her graduate thesis as an opportunity—she wrote a business and marketing plan for MMIA that she launched in 2001!
Her journey leading to a career in education is a long one. Longer than the car trip from Indianapolis to her hometown of Little Rock, Ark., with a few breakdowns thrown in for good measure.