Dr. Ashe had a self-described love affair with Howard University from childhood, when he dreamed of being involved in the medical school. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Howard, Dr. Ashe enlisted in the US Marines Corps. He remarked that the day he enlisted was both the best—and the worst—day of his life. “[The Marines] have a motto that I still remember. They say, ‘the difficult we do immediately; the impossible takes a little time.’…I live my life on that principle.”
After an honorable discharge in 1953, Dr. Ashe was hired at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He worked at NIH for 20 years, and was the first African-American to become a senior scientific advisor at the National Institute for Dental Research. In 1961, after spending time studying the herpes simplex virus, he published his first paper in the journal, Archives of Oral Biology. In 1962, he earned a master’s degree in microbiology from Howard.
In 1971, Dr. Ashe received a call from the dean of Howard University College of Medicine, asking him to join the administration. Dr. Ashe began his work at Howard later that year, starting as an assistant dean and instructor of microbiology. In 1976, Dr. Ashe enrolled as a PhD student in the department of microbiology, working during the day and taking classes at night. He completed his longed-for doctoral degree in 1984.
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