Asia Stephens Is on Her Way to Being a Funeral Director

by Monica Hoel
Asia has had her sights set on this career for a very long time.

She vividly remembers attending a funeral for a family member when she was in elementary school. She peered into the coffin and wasn’t pleased with the appearance of the deceased. “I didn’t like how he looked.” That moment would prove to be the genesis of a life wondering how a funeral service could be more perfect for a family.

During her first year at Emory & Henry she told a friend she wanted to be a funeral director. “She busted out laughing!” It rattled her confidence a bit regarding her plans to pursue a career in the funeral industry. Eventually she found the self-confidence to go after what she wanted and what she felt she was meant to do. “I decided this is definitely my calling, and I definitely need to do this. I want to help families.”

She is currently an intern at Oakey’s Funeral Home in the Roanoke Valley. She began her work there while still a student in 2019. She started as an attendant, helping on the day of a funeral service. Now, as an intern, she gets to be part of every aspect of the work, including helping families plan their services.

She’s also attending Tidewater Community College, completing their Funeral Service Program, and is due to wrap up her school work in a couple of semesters. Her work as an intern also helps toward completing this goal because in addition to classroom work also she has to have 2,000 hours of work in the field.

She started working for Oakey’s in 2019, and has worked for them continuously ever since – including through the pandemic. Asia says this unprecedented event offered new challenges. Beyond just the stress of a greatly increased number of families being served, there was the additional sadness in the early weeks of the pandemic of sometimes having to tell families they couldn’t even come to the funeral home to see their deceased loved ones. “It was definitely a different time, but luckily we had leaders who made a plan and got us through those times.”

Asia has long since quit worrying about anyone raising an eyebrow when she tells them what she’s planning to do with her career. “Emory & Henry was a place where we could try new things, step out of our comfort zones, be ourselves, and people still accepted us. I’ve learned to do that in my adult life, too: be confident, be who you are, don’t shy away from anything because you are capable.”

You can enjoy a conversation with Asia on the Duck Pond Wall podcast.

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/285,0,798,512/14806_Tommy_Barber.Brown_Award_2023.rev.1698341610.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/285,0,798,512/14806_Tommy_Barber.Brown_Award_2023.rev.1698341610.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/285,0,798,512/14806_Tommy_Barber.Brown_Award_2023.rev.1698341610.jpg" alt="Gray-haired man at lectern." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="513" data-max-h="512" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"> Tommy Barber Receives Prestigious Award </h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Tommy Barber has received the Charles Brown Award for his service to the Salem, Virginia, community as a school psychologist. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="https://www.roanoke.edu/news/charles_brown_award_2023">Read more…</a></span></p><a href="/live/news/3192-tommy-barber-receives-prestigious-award" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1551-dave-mcglothlin-says-theres-always-something-new"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,640,640/9083_IMG_2599.rev.1708021639.JPG 1x"/> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,640,640/9083_IMG_2599.rev.1708021639.JPG 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,640,640/9083_IMG_2599.rev.1708021639.JPG 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,640,640/9083_IMG_2599.rev.1708021639.JPG" alt="Dave McGlothlin, Emory & Henry Class of 1986" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="640" data-max-h="640" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1551-dave-mcglothlin-says-theres-always-something-new">Dave McGlothlin Says There’s Always Something New to Learn from History</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> In 2015 Dave McGlothlin won the honor of being History Teacher of the Year for Massachusetts. But he readily admits that he is constantly learning new stories from our country’s history. <a href="/live/news/1551-dave-mcglothlin-says-theres-always-something-new" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2214-eamph-friends-on-center-stage"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/119,0,919,800/10834_Free_Spirit_photo.rev.1645106838.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/119,0,919,800/10834_Free_Spirit_photo.rev.1645106838.webp 2x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/119,0,919,800/10834_Free_Spirit_photo.rev.1645106838.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/119,0,919,800/10834_Free_Spirit_photo.rev.1645106838.jpg 2x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/119,0,919,800/10834_Free_Spirit_photo.rev.1645106838.jpg" alt="The cast of Love, Loss, and What She Wore performed at the Free Spirit Theatre in Knoxville. (Front left is Cheri Compton, E&H " width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/119,0,919,800/10834_Free_Spirit_photo.rev.1645106838.jpg 2x" data-max-w="800" data-max-h="800" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2214-eamph-friends-on-center-stage">E&H Friends on Center Stage</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Three of the stars in a recent Knoxville production of <em>Love, Loss and What I Wore</em> had more than a love of theatre in common: they also had a certain tiny college in Virginia as a mutual bond. <a href="/live/news/2214-eamph-friends-on-center-stage" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>