Micah Ashby, one of Oregon OSHA’s senior safety compliance officers, may not consider himself a hero, but Columbia Southern University recently awarded him its 2022 Forever a Hero Scholarship.
This scholarship will cover up to $26,100 of Micah’s master’s degree program in occupational safety and health. The scholarship, which honors military veterans and their contributions to our communities, will be applied directly to his tuition for up to three years. Micah expects to graduate from his program in 2025.
In congratulating Micah, Oregon OSHA Deputy Administrator Julie Love told him that this achievement “is all the more impressive because it not only recognizes the work you’ve done – and continue to do for Oregon OSHA – but for your service to our country.”
Micah grew up in California and left home in 2005 to join the Navy in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
“Like many people at that time, I was compelled to respond and do my part,” he said.
Micah signed on for a five-year enlistment as an aircraft structures mechanic. In 2006, the U.S. Department of Defense sent out a call for volunteers among the military branches to help fill the ranks of soldiers in Iraq. Micah answered the call and ended up serving at Camp Bucca, Iraq, for a year with Naval Provisional Detainee Battalion 2, attached to the Army 108th Brigade out of Fort Bliss, Texas.
Over the next 12 months, his base received mortar fire with many of the rounds making it inside the compound. He said inmates would escape, dig underground tunnels and fight one another.
“Our unit persevered, and we kept moving forward despite the stress, fear and longing to go home; we had zero U.S. casualties,” he said.
When that tour came to an end, Micah returned to the United States, where he was stationed out of Widbey Island, Washington, before a final, five-month deployment to Okinawa, Japan. In 2010, he separated from the Navy as a petty officer third class and moved back home to Modesto, California. He received two Navy Commendation Medals, one Army Commendation Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal for his military career.
“My service in the Navy and the Army were challenging and life altering, but they were the best five years of my life to this point,” he said.
In 2015, Micah chose to get his undergraduate degree and earned a bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and health from Waldorf University two years later. He joined Oregon OSHA as a safety compliance officer in the Bend field office in 2018.
“The best part about my job is the joy I get from helping so many different employers throughout the state make their workplaces safer for their employees,” he said. “Enforcement is filled with uncertainty, potential stressful situations, aggravated people and so many unknowns; this is where I thrive.”
“I may open an inspection with an angry and confused employer, but if I leave that job site with them smiling and shaking my hand, then I know I had a positive impact.”
He started his master’s program about a year ago. Micah said he wants to apply the skills and knowledge he is learning directly to his inspections and to continue helping keep Oregon employees safe at work.
Micah and his wife recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. They have two girls, ages 21 and 9. He said receiving the Forever a Hero Scholarship will greatly benefit his family.
“Without the financial burden of me paying for the program, I will be able to provide the funding to my family for their needs,” he said.
When not working, studying or traveling with his family, Micah – a self-identified “gearhead”– can be found in his garage, where he “loves working with my hands, welding, painting, and creating.” He still owns and maintains his first car, a 1971, two-door, Chevy Nova coupe. One of his future goals is to earn a private pilot license and purchase a Cessna 172 so he can one day travel wherever his wife wants to go.
Taken from: Connections, The DCBS Employee Newsletter, November 2022