This week’s Up Close features Senior Airman Ashley Royal, assistant NCOIC of flight medicine at the 94th Aeromedical Staging Squadron. Up Close is a series spotlighting individuals around Dobbins Air Reserve Base.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
I’m from Burgaw, NC. It’s about 20 minutes from Wilmington. It’s a really small town.
WHY DID YOU JOIN?
Initially I was active duty, and I became a reservist to be closer to family, since all my family is on the east coast. I was stationed in Arizona at the time. I could also pursue school and my civilian ventures while still being in the military.
WHAT DO YOU DO ON THE CIVILIAN SIDE?
I’m a medical assistant at Northside Hospital. I started out as a travel technician with them and then got hired on at a clinic in Midtown.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOUR MILITARY AND CIVILIAN JOB?
A lot of the medical practices and other medical type things are the same, but one difference I’ve noticed is how resilient we are in the military. There was a clinic that I was temporarily working at and I came in one day to find all the systems were down. Everyone was in a panic. I went to the Check Out section since I knew they always print out the next day’s schedule before they leave. I made a bunch of copies of the schedule and passed them around. Being in the military, I’m trained to work around problems to find solutions. I’m also not used to hearing people say something isn’t their job, because in the military everything is your job. We have to the job no matter what, or it doesn’t get done.
FAVORITE AIR FORCE EXPERIENCE?
My favorite experience has been the bonds that I’ve made with people. I feel like it’s so different from anything else I’ve ever experienced. My military family is my family. I’ve gone through quite a lot of things from family members passing away to relocation. After I left active duty, I moved to Texas before moving here. There was a girl I was taking classes with who was also in the Army, and she and I bonded. I’d watch her daughter for her while she went to school, and eventually I even moved in with her for a couple months. I feel like the bonds you make with military members is like no other bond.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES?
Growing up in a small town, my dad was really crafty and my mom was a hairdresser so she was really creative. I feel like I got a good combination of those two. I like making things or refurbishing furniture. Right now I’m about to take on the task of building my dining room table. Pinterest is life. I go on Pinterest and I find different ideas.
Being a mom, you don’t always devote time to yourself, so this year I’m trying to get back into some other hobbies like making soap. I made bar soap when I was in Arizona. I like doing things with my hands, making stuff. I also like reading books. I really like the outdoors too – when it’s warmer, obviously.
I’ll be enrolling back into school, so hopefully in the next couple years I’ll finish my bachelor’s degree in social work and then going forward to get my master’s degree. Ultimately, I want to work with kids as a counselor in the school system. On the military side, I’d like to commission. I feel like prior enlisted make good officers because they understand both sides.
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED?
Everybody knows when they go to church, it feels like the pastor is pulling from the depths of your soul. I’ve always felt like I’ve needed to have everything in order before I move to the next step. I’m a virgo so I’m super analytical and everything has to be organized. I actually have this quote from my pastor written down on a sticky note on my mirror. He said, “We’re not waiting on God, God is waiting on us.” Sometimes when I’m hesitant about some things and trying to figure out the next step, I think about that to push myself out of my comfort zone. As people, we get very comfortable and stagnant and tell ourselves that we’re just waiting on a sign. We already have all the steps ahead of us and the signs are there. We just have to take that first step.
SOMETHING NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT YOU?
I secretly want to learn how to play the saxophone. I used to play the piano growing up and I lost interest because of the instructor that I had. The music was boring, and I had mastered my keys and everything. I was learning how to play by ear and was working with someone who was teaching me to play by ear, but they ended up leaving and going someplace else. I went back to the hot potato music with the new teacher. I just got really burned out on it. I always wanted to get back into learning how to play instruments.