ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Alan Lott saw an opportunity for career advancement and travel, but his decision to pursue it catapulted his civil service career beyond his expectations.

In 1989, Lott was a Federal civil servant and military veteran working for the Department of the Air Force when he heard of an Army job that offered an internship with automatic advancement to the GS-9 journeyman level.

"Since the position included a mandatory mobility clause, it came with a guaranteed opportunity for travel," Lott said of the Quality Assurance Specialist (Ammunition Surveillance) opening. QASAS are responsible for ensuring the quality and serviceability of ammunition and explosives issued to the nation's Warfighters. He called the career move "just the opportunity I was looking for."

This opportunity led Lott to the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity (CMA) in 2003, where he has served as Chief of the Stockpile Management Office since 2008. CMA supports Army modernization and Soldier readiness through the safe, secure storage of the nation's two remaining chemical weapon stockpiles at Pueblo Chemical Depot, Colorado, and Blue Grass Army Depot, Kentucky, and the assessment and destruction of recovered chemical warfare materiel.

His interest in safety and protection of the environment influenced his academics and career. The Youngstown, Ohio, native studied Environmental Safety and Health at Horry-Georgetown Technical College and Saint Leo University in South Carolina, and earned an Associate Degree equivalent in Aircraft Armament Systems Mechanics from Community College of the U.S. Air Force. He served both active and reserve duty from 1982 to 1990. Lott said the commonalities between his military training and experience and his field of study led him to civil service.

Lott advises African-American youth interested in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field to know how they learn best - visually, hands-on or a combination - and apply it to their studies. He also recommends they take more challenging STEM classes as early as possible in high school.

"The struggles of those who came before me paved the way to opportunities they could never have imagined," Lott said, describing his opportunity to honor those sacrifices by serving his country with dignity and integrity as "a blessing."

"I have an obligation to serve with distinction in furtherance of the progress African-Americans have made in federal civil service and in defense of our nation," he said.

For more information on CMA, visit https://www.cma.army.mil

(NOTE: This article was written by Sarah Jacobs, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity Public Affairs Office contractor)