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Sterling Ashby 1969-2017

Sterling Ashby photo: LinkedIn


Sterling Ashby '92, best known as co-founder of Umoja House, died in November 2017 after a year-long struggle with brain cancer. He was 48.

Sterling earned his bachelors in industrial and systems engineering at Lehigh University. In 1989, he and fellow students approached the University with a proposal outlining their ideas to improve campus diversity. Umoja House was the result, and it has been a resource, community and residence for students of color ever since.

Umoja, in Swahili, means "unity."

While a student, Ashby was a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, the University choir, the Gryphon Society, the Black Students Union, the Philosophy Club and the Men's Intramural Soccer Team. Later, he became a trustee for the Lehigh University Alumni Board.

Ashby earned a masters in Science and Technology Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1996 and a law degree from Columbia University in 1999. He specialized in government contracting, corporate finance, governance and commercial lending.

Ashby's lifelong passion for community service prompted him to serve as the board chair for DC Lawyers for Youth, Seabury Resources for Aging and DC SCORES, a teamwork-building program for children residing in Washington, DC neighborhoods.

Ashby also founded the educational toy company History In Action Toys, a result of being an avid comic book collector as a child.

Umoja House was renovated in 2014 and remains a vibrant home to nearly 30 students from all academic majors, class years and backgrounds.


-Mary Anne Lynch

March 1, 2018

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