A wide smile, bright eyes and a sweet laugh, Lexi Caruthers exudes a positivity that no one would expect from a life that easily could have gone down a dark path. Her life struggles, she explained, are rather “complicated,” but there are no qualms about the blessings she’s taken from them.
“I’m just thankful that I’m healthy and still here because if it wouldn’t have been for my grandmother I probably wouldn’t be here today,” she said of Becky Caruthers.
Alexis “Lexi” Caruthers, 18, is a Mount St. Mary graduate, with a 4.07 GPA. She grew up attending St. Theresa Church and School in Little Rock, which she called “a real big support since it’s kind of a small church, we’re like a family.” She is vice president of the CYM program.
At the Mount, she’s been active in the Student Athletic Training Club, the Concert Belles, Beta Club and National Honor Society.
“The girls and the friendships that I’ve made because a lot of my really close friends are going out of state, they’re going different places and just knowing that I won’t be able to see them every day at school will be hard,” she said she’ll miss, adding, “but I’ll be able to see them whenever they come home on the weekends.”
Her optimism is a far cry from how her life began.
“My birthmom … she was a severe drug addict when she was pregnant with me. So she was having a difficult time deciding what to do and if she’d be able to raise me,” Caruthers said, adding “Before she had two boys and their father raised them. My (maternal) grandmother was like, ‘I’m going to adopt you’ and she raised me.”
She never met her older half-brothers — one was killed in a car accident at 17 and the other died just two days before she found out they existed.
“I think that was probably the hardest thing, knowing that I could have known him, but it was just a little too late,” Caruthers said.
When she was about 15, she learned that the woman she thought was a distant relative was her birth mother. The woman died in March from breast cancer.
“It was tough, more for having to see my grandmother lose a daughter … Throughout my life my grandmother, it was just kind of like me and her. She was always there for me and I was always there for her,” she said, adding she’s always called her “Mom.”
When Lexi was a toddler, Becky Caruthers was diagnosed with breast cancer and it recurred a few years later. When Lexi was 15, her grandmother was diagnosed with stomach cancer.
“So she’s kind of been sick throughout my whole life. So I’ve always been there taking care of her and she was able to take care of me,” Caruthers said. “Ever since I was little, she said that God has given me (to her), I was her little angel that she was able to raise. So I know God has always had a plan throughout my whole life. Even though some bad things have happened, he always has a plan for why.”
In the fall, she’ll attend the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, majoring in chemistry. She hopes to be a doctor working in the neonatal intensive care unit.
It’s a fitting career path, from taking care of her grandmother to wrapping injuries and assisting with rehab for MSM athletes as a member of the Student Athletic Training Club.
“For every sport we’ll go to all their games, practices. I was really involved in volleyball because I love volleyball and a lot of my friends were on the team,” including a best friend, who tore her ACL her junior year. “I was able to help her through rehab and really get her on track to play her senior year.”
Last summer, she was one of 12 students selected from 60 applicants to participate in the UAMS Healers’ two-week program, volunteering and shadowing doctors with various emphases in medicine.
“Even though you have hard times, you have people around you that will support you,” she said of lessons she’s learned from MSM. “And you just look up to God and he’ll guide you.”
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