You don’t need to convince Jackie Cain that Kentucky is a special place.

Though she was born in Chicago and attended high school in Florida, her time in between growing up in the Commonwealth – specifically Smiths Grove, Ky. – was enough for her to proudly call herself a Kentuckian. She loved it so much, she returned to attend the University of Kentucky to pursue her Bachelor of Arts.

For 59 years, Cain has resided in Northern Kentucky, where she and her late husband Rodney “Biz” Cain established a lifestyle of giving back to help their community thrive.

Recently, she directed her generosity to the UK College of Medicine-Northern Kentucky Campus, committing $1 million to create a scholarship endowment for physicians to complete their medical degree at the regional site. The endowment will pay it forward for generations, supporting physicians-in-training who will provide exceptional care to their communities.

Cain is not a UK College of Medicine alumnus, nor are her children or grandchildren. So why does she want to support the medical school?

Her reasoning is rooted in education, her love for Northern Kentucky, and her mission “to give a student a chance” to pursue this noble dream.


Though Cain did not attend the UK College of Medicine, it does hold significance. While attending UK, she was “pinned” by her husband in the medical school parking lot, meaning she was given a pin as a symbol of their commitment to one another. They were married six months after they met.

That’s the extent of Cain’s personal connection to the medical school, but her family has strong ties to the University. She and more than eight of her family members – including her husband, her sister-in-law, two of her sons, and two granddaughters – have graduated from UK. She also has two grandsons currently attending UK.

Cain has remained heavily involved in UK Women in Philanthropy. In fact, she was looking for a way to give back to UK when she came across the Northern Kentucky Campus.

The UK College of Medicine’s regional campus was established in 2019 in partnership with Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and St. Elizabeth Healthcare. Faculty teach the same curriculum available at UK College of Medicine’s main campus in Lexington and its other regional campus in Bowling Green.

This stood out to Cain, who recognizes that Kentucky needs well-trained doctors. And with 20 years teaching in the Kenton County School District, she also knows how vital it is to have strong education embedded in a community.

“I’ve watched Northern Kentucky grow so much, and having a medical school here is a really big deal,” she said. “I’m hoping some of these doctors will stay in our area or stay in our state.”

The Biz and Jackie Cain Family Medical Scholarship Endowment will support annual scholarships for students accepted and enrolled in the College of Medicine-Northern Kentucky Campus who are in good academic standing, have demonstrated unmet financial need, and graduated from a high school in Boone, Kenton, Campbell, Pendleton, or Grant County, Ky.

By creating this endowment, she and her family have entrusted the UK College of Medicine with the responsibility of educating physicians who are prepared to treat Kentucky patients.

“It is truly an honor that Mrs. Cain and her family wanted to support Northern Kentucky Campus students with this generous gift, which will make a significant impact on medical education in the region and health care in the state,” said Steven Haist, MD, MS, associate dean for the campus.

The Cain Family’s endowment is a long-term philanthropic investment in the advancement of medical education in the Commonwealth. The first full group of four Cain Family scholarship recipients will receive their scholarships in the fall of 2023.

This year, Cain’s son John and daughter-in-law Carla, donated $10,000 for a one-time Cain Family medical student scholarship. During the Northern Kentucky Campus’s white coat ceremony in July, it was presented to first-year student Jade Nicely, who attended UK for her undergraduate degree and is from the Northern Kentucky area. Nicely was able to meet Mrs. Cain during the white coat ceremony and said it was special getting to personally share how much the Cain family’s contribution meant to her.

“She was so kind,” Nicely said of Cain. “I am so grateful for the scholarship she and her family have provided for me, as it made my dream of going to school in my hometown possible.”


In her 59-plus years in Northern Kentucky, Cain has seen tremendous growth. Gravel roads have transformed to four-lane highways with bicycle paths. Many new housing developments have popped up to accommodate the population growth. Apparently, others are catching on to the area’s greatness, she says.Cain resides on a farm far enough in the countryside to see the stars and hear the frogs croaking at night, but close enough to enjoy all the arts events, concerts, and shopping the next morning in nearby Covington, Ky. And it is exactly where she wants to be.

Cain is thankful that she and her husband have been so deeply connected to the economic development of the region. Along with her plentiful contributions, her husband was a former Kenton County judge, Cabinet Secretary for Workforce Development under former Gov. Paul E. Patton, co-founder of The Bank of Kentucky, and entrepreneur who started Wiseway Plumbing and Lighting Supply, a company that just celebrated its 50th anniversary.

With the Biz and Jackie Cain Family Medical Scholarship Endowment, Cain is building another strong connection to another important part of Northern Kentucky, the special place she calls home.

“Other people have planted the trees,” she said. “We are just watering them.”

This story was featured in the Winter 2023 edition of UK Medicine magazine. To read the full issue, click here.