Sterling Ashby graduated from Milton Hershey School in 1987. He is a corporate lawyer in Washington, D.C. who works out of an old Wonder Bread factory.
“People talk about the smell of the bread that came out of here,” he said. “Now it’s a place where a lot of young companies start out and I get to work with some of these companies and try to help [them] grow.”
Sterling also works with government contractors and has several larger corporate clients. While juggling all of that, he takes time to give back to his community and to students at MHS.
“I love when I’ve been able to come back to speak to Milton Hershey School students,” he said. “Especially when we can talk about the challenges that Milton Hershey faced, his major setbacks, and how he learned to overcome those challenges, and [eventually] make a better way for others.”
In September 2016, Sterling faced a personal setback when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. The doctors were able to diagnose it early and remove 95 percent of it.
“I still have a long way to go,” he said. “It has brought a new kind of challenge into my life but it also has opened my eyes and made me ultra reflective. I see the world differently.”
Sterling credits the relationships he built at MHS for helping him get through the difficult days.
“You don’t realize during those formative experiences, you’re building bonds that will stay with you for a very, very long time,” he said. “I have a large group of people who are rallying behind me because of our shared experiences in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I don’t think I’ve ever showed up for people the way people have showed up for me. I’ve learned so much about compassion through this experience.”
It’s something Sterling hopes current MHS students will understand and embrance.
“Appreciate the time you are there,” he said. “The world is not as open, sharing or diverse as MHS. Build the bonds that will continue throughout your life and get involved, because you’ll draw on those experiences later and help move communities forward.”