Everyone at Lumity looks forward to the grand opening of the new Maywood Training Center in 2024, but there’s probably no one more excited than Asia Ousley, Lumity’s Director of STEMWorks Programs. Asia’s connection to Maywood is a deep one, and she is passionate about bringing positive change to the community she lived in as a child. 

STEMWorks is specifically designed to equip young adults with skills that enable them to succeed in STEM careers. It’s a collection of intensive, holistic employment programs for youth who do not have a college or career plan. Asia, along with her STEMWorks teammates and corporate partners, have created a results-driven model for engaging, training, and placing young adults in entry-level jobs in fields including information technology, construction, the building trades, healthcare, and manufacturing. 

During her freshman year at Illinois State University, Asia realized that she wanted to help others. “I noticed that a lot of my peers were not prepared to succeed in the college environment,” explained Asia. “They were put on academic probation or kicked out even though some of the barriers were beyond their control. And I just wished I could do something to help them.” 

Asia carried that feeling with her as she started her career, always looking for ways to be a resource in her community. When the opportunity to join Lumity and focus on workforce development presented itself, Asia jumped at the chance. “To be able to create career pathways for young adults who never thought they’d have the chance is so impactful to me,” said Asia. “It especially resonates because this is happening in a village I know and love. When I was a girl growing up in Maywood, these opportunities didn’t exist. Had they existed, circumstances for my peers would have been a lot different. I’m over the moon happy to be creating these opportunities, funneling resources into this area, and being a beacon of hope in my community.” 

Asia is especially looking forward to seeing the results of YouthBuild, a new program for disconnected youth that launched in 2023. “YouthBuild is going to be a game changer. This program is an opportunity to transform lives. We’re working with young people who feel like there’s nobody who cares whether they succeed or not. We’re going to change that narrative and, in the process, change some lives.” 

Asia and her teammates have ambitious goals for Lumity’s STEMWorks programs. “We plan to train and place more than 500 young people over the next three years. Maywood has an incredibly rich history, but it’s also a place that has suffered over the years. Now, thankfully, we’re seeing resources funneled in, and we’re creating these new opportunities. We’re gathering steam and seeing progress, change, and effort. And there’s more to come.” 

Asia’s personal goal is to leave a legacy and to be part of the team that brings pride back to Maywood. “There’s no greater feeling than coming back to your community and being a changemaker. I’m going to be that person who supports and celebrates these young people and helps them change their narrative. This effort is moving full speed ahead now—we’re all gas, no brakes!”