LEXINGTON, SC (WIS) - Lexington High School students got a taste of what it truly means to be a member of the United States Navy after a visit from the department's STEM Tour on Friday.
The STEM Tour took the students through a virtual reality experience called "the Burke." It's an experience that, to date, has introduced 30,000 people to Navy life since its launch. It's a life-like rescue mission that helps participants experience the skills you learn as a member of the Navy.
"This isn't just the Navy this is just about life decisions," Petty Officer Ryan Romero said. "It's a really great experience because you really get to see the rest of the world."
Romero, who has served for eight years, said that he wished someone had told him more about the Navy in high school. He said it would've made it quickly evident that was the route he wanted to pursue.
Now, after joining in his early twenties, he's a jet mechanic and believes fully in the path he chose.
"It's a steady life for me," Romero said. "A really steady income and career path and it's something I wouldn't give up for anything. It's done a lot for me."
Students raved about the chance to see Navy action up close.
"Real," 9th-grader Shannon Brown said. "I can tell you that it was real. It was cool too."
Brown said he didn't know much about the Navy before stopping by the STEM Tour.
"They have different fields," Brown said. "You can dive and I like swimming."
Romero said he hopes he can get to kids like Brown early and let them know that joining the Navy is a great journey.
"I took a few years off before I actually joined," Romero said. "So I'm here to tell them don't make the mistake I made because when I got into the Navy at 21 turning 22, there were guys who had gotten in out of high school and they were way ahead of me."
While the idea of life at sea might still be in its virtual stages for kids like Brown, it becomes more of a reality with every stop with its next stop being Alabama.
"He was talking about how much respect he has," Brown said of one of the Navy recruiters. "I want people to say that about me when they get older, you know?"
You can find more information about joining and about the STEM Tour program at navy.com.