NORFOLK, Va. -- Airman Jasmine Lowe’s commute to work is a bit unconventional. She navigates through restricted areas aboard the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower, including portholes that are only for authorized personnel.
Lowe builds bombs aboard the Eisenhower as part of the 3,000 sailors that make up the ship's company.
She showed us where the bombs usually end up; latched on to planes that take off from the Eisenhower on deployment and get dropped during dangerous missions.
In fact, the aircraft carrier deployed to the Persian Gulf last year, providing support for troops in Syria and Iraq.
Now that the carrier is back, they’re doing training exercises about 200 miles off the coast of Virginia.
“I build stuff to blow stuff up. It goes on jets and the jets drop it off on bad guys,” Airman Lowe said.
But if that seems tough, know her path to get there has also been hard.
“It was pretty rough in all honesty,” she said.
Lowe grew up far from the ocean, on Greenwood Street in South Memphis.
“The street I grew up on, you would see a lot of crime, a lot of illegal activities,” she said.
Drug deals happened every day until she was put in foster care at age 14. She moved to southeast Memphis and attended Southwind High School.
“If I would’ve stayed in south Memphis I wouldn’t be on the path I’m on now being in the Navy. Probably would be doing something that’s not so good in my life,” Lowe said.
Lowe did well and got scholarship offers to college but she wanted to pay her own way. She saw the military as the answer.
And frankly, the Navy made her choice between branches easy.
“Those were the only recruiters that came to Southwind High! They made it sound very promising, being able to travel be on your own, succeeding on your own,” she said.
Jasmine put us in touch with her biological mother Sandra, who now lives in north Memphis.
She didn't want to talk about why her two daughters were taken away from her, but said their relationship is better today.
“I’m thankful and blessed she is in there making it a career,” Sandra Walker said. “Beating the odds as they say."
She doesn’t have a lot of space or privacy on board: “It's very small. It’s uncomfortable," she said.
But Lowe said she made the most of the challenge; the 20-year-old said she's excited to see new places like France and Dubai.
“I could probably say I’m one of the only people from my high school who’s actually seen Dubai and put pictures on my Twitter,” she said.
She's also using her opportunity to take college courses.
“I want to stay in 12 years. I think I that’s enough time if I don’t procrastinate to get a degree or two and get as stable as possible,” she said.
She hopes to eventually land a job as a child advocacy lawyer or therapist. Lowe wanted to help kids like her who may not see a way out of a place like south Memphis.
“I believe she is making it better for the next generation that wants to go into the military,” her mother said.
She wants kids who grew up like her to know they can do it too.