A familiar face has come back to her hometown of Nebraska City to help "build a better community.
"My roots were always here," Laura Bando-Ross said.
Bando-Ross is the new social worker at St. Mary's Community Hospital and at the Nebraska City Medical Clinic.
Since Bando-Ross is the first social worker the hospital and clinic have ever had, the Nebraska City High School 1994 graduate is a being true "pioneer.
"I thought that this job sounded exciting," she said. "I just felt that this was the time to do this."
Bando-Ross began her position at the end of May. She works in the mornings at St. Mary's and in the afternoons at the clinic.
She said being from the area helps with her job because some patients may recognize her or know of her family. From babies to the elderly, she works with patients of all ages.
"I'm just there to support them and guide them, and provide them with education and resources," she said.
The hospital hosted an open house for Bando-Ross Thursday evening. Colleagues, family and friends attended to congratulate her for her success. Many colleagues thanked her for her hard work and called her a "valuable asset" to the hospital and clinic.
Bando-Ross graduated from Peru State College in Peru with a Bachelor's of Science in psychology and sociology in 1998. She then moved to Omaha to work with children and families in group homes and made sure that children were being raised in a safe and stable home environment.
In 2005, she had decided to make a career change and work with the elderly. She said the reason for the change was due to her grandfather's declining health. While working with the elderly, Bando-Ross  became determined to become a social worker.
"I just felt like that was my calling," she said. "And then I decided that if I was going to pursue a social worker's career, I would have to get my master's degree in social work."
She cracked open the books again and went back to school for her master's degree at the University of Nebraska Omaha. She interned with Methodist Hospital in Omaha and with Tabitha Health Care Services in Nebraska City and Lincoln. She earned her master's degree in social work and a master-level certificate in gerontology in August 2012.
She also became a licensed Certified Social Worker and Provisional Mental Health Practitioner.
She then moved back to Nebraska City to be closer to her family. The timing of the position was perfect for Bando-Ross.
"I feel very blessed to have this job. I think God puts you in places that you need to be," she said. "I just feel like the things that I've done are stepping stones in my profession."
Bando-Ross lives in Syracuse with her husband, Jason, and their 3-year-old corgi, Bubba.