BELLEVUE, Neb. - Petty Officer 1st Class Lance Ross, culinary specialist and Navy enlisted aide to Vice Adm. Cecil Haney, deputy commander, U.S. Strategic Command, talks with students about his military career as part of a community outreach initiative at Bellevue West High School's culinary arts class Dec. 12. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez)
BELLEVUE, Neb. Â --Â Students at Bellevue West High School's culinary class received some food for thought after a Sailor shared his success story as a servicemember and personal chef to one of U.S. Strategic Command's top leaders Dec. 12.
Petty Officer 1st Class Lance Ross, culinary specialist and Navy enlisted aide to Vice Adm. Cecil Haney, deputy commander, USSTRATCOM, discussed career options for pursuing the culinary arts in the military while drawing from his own experiences as part of a community outreach initiative.
"Not everybody knows what the military does, there are so many different avenues and facets of it," Petty Officer Ross said. "Anytime you can get out in front of the general public as a military member and speak to them about what we do and get the wheels turning in their heads â€¦ it's always a good thing. "
Relating to the students, some who aspire to make cooking a career, he explained how he initially didn't join the military to cook, much less to become an aide to a senior leader. He enlisted later than most recruits after turning 30 years old with the intention of becoming an air traffic controller; however, time constraints narrowed his career path down where he chose to become a cook and he hasn't looked back since.
"I came in to earn my G.I. Bill to get a second college degree and here I am - I'm an E-6 now under six years and I love what I do, whether it's out to sea or here supporting the command and the admiral," he said. "I take a lot of pride in what I do and wearing the uniform. "
Petty Officer Ross enlisted in November 2006 after earning a four-year college degree in communications and working a civilian job. After enlisting he was assigned as a line-cook onboard the USS Miami based out of Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn. After some encouragement and recommendations from his superiors, he applied and was chosen to become an enlisted aide and was reassigned to USSTRATCOM in February 2011. As an aide to a senior leader, his duties include assisting the admiral with his often demanding and hectic work schedule.
While speaking to the students, he highlighted his time as a submariner where he had the opportunity to travel to eight different countries. Some students asked him questions relating to his duties, the dignitaries he's prepared meals for, and what basic military training was like.
"We're always looking for different careers for our students here," said Pamela Oholendt, food and culinary arts instructor, BWHS. "It's a good marriage of something they might really like to do to be creative, something that's very professional and another option to help them get through college. "
Petty Officer Ross said he hopes his presentation will resonate with the students. He also said he would like to see other military members take the opportunity to reach out to the community when they can.
"CS1 Ross is a credit to himself, the U.S. Navy and USSTRATCOM. I am very pleased to see that he has given back to the community at-large. Many young men and women can and will benefit from his superior example," Admiral Haney said.