Sparks, a 2010 graduate of Cordova High School, is a Culinary Specialist 3rd Class on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The Eisenhower was deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom for six months in 2012 and redeployed for another four months in February 2013.
The aircraft carrier is currently docked at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
So far, Sparks’ travels have taken her to Spain, Greece, Portugal, Dubai and Bahrain.
“It’s been a good adventure, traveling, learning new things and getting to try new foods,” Sparks said of her experience in the Navy.
Sparks is part of a crew of 50 people who are needed to man the Eisenhower’s galley while out at sea.
Four meals a day are prepared for approximately 5,000 sailors.
“It’s a big difference from cooking a big Thanksgiving meal at home for 20 people to feeding 5,000 at a pretty fast pace,” Sparks said.
Special meals help prevent sailors from going stir-crazy while aboard ship for long periods of time, according to Sparks.
The Eisenhower’s food service division hosted ice cream socials and a picnic on the flight deck to keep morale up during the recent deployments.
Sparks joined the Navy shortly after graduating from high school.
She is the first member of her immediate family to serve in the military. She comes back home at least twice a year, usually for holidays.
“It (the Navy) has opened my mind to everything else that’s out in the world,” Sparks said.