Turning Dreams into Reality
Maya Crockem’s future as a woman in construction were planted early on in life. As a child, the Norristown resident would jump at every chance she got to try her hand at building something with her father, who was a carpenter. And visits to her grandmother’s house invariably included time with her learning something from one or more of HGTV’s home improvement programs.
She realized that she needed to make a change, so she kept her eyes open for other options. This led her to a job fair being hosted by JEVS Human Services, a nonprofit in the Delaware Valley that assists more than 25,000 people each year in becoming self-sufficient and satisfied. Not realizing that JEVS also operates a trade school in Northeast Philadelphia-Orleans Technical College-Crockem was surprised, to say the least, at what she discovered at the job fair.
“I went to a JEVS job fair and pulled up to a trade school,” Crockem said. “I thought ‘This is so awesome!’ It was this toy dangling in front of me.”
As Crockem continued working in the psychology field, the idea of going to school to learn a trade remained in the back of her mind. It just never seemed to be the right time for a change-until COVID-19 hit. During this dark time for the global society, Crockem saw a ray of light and created for herself an opportunity to make a change. She enrolled in Orleans Tech’s Building Maintenance career training program.
“More and more of the public is realizing that the trades are a great career and one in which the demand for work should always remain strong,” said Debbie Bello, Admissions Director at JEVS’ Orleans Tech. “The demand for what we provide is rising, and we are seeing more interest from everyone-including women. Not only has the number of women graduating from our programs been steadily growing, but our female students really seem to excel and are sought after by employers.”
Before settling on construction, Crockem also entertained the idea of interior design. But even though she loves that aspect of the world, those “seeds” planted in her childhood won the day.“There’s just something about being able to construct something and put something together,” said Crockem. “There’s nothing like enjoying something you physically did.”For now, Crockem plans to remain working in the psychology field while she finishes school, but she is extremely proud that she is following her true passion with Orleans Tech.
As Orleans Tech celebrates National Women in Construction week, Crockem and the rest of her Building Maintenance classmates are getting set to celebrate their graduation. Now equipped with skills she can carry for a lifetime, Crockem thinks the future is bright-not only for her, but for all women entering the profession. “These days women are entering the field and doing really well,” said Crockem. “If I found a handy female, I’d support them. It’s been fun and crazy. Things that I thought were so difficult are making so much sense now. I would have been scared to wire a light and now it’s one of my most favorite things.”