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NEWS | Sept. 21, 2023

NSWCDD cybersecurity lead finds courage to start anew in the United States

By Madeline Keenan, NSWCDD Corporate Communications

“I knew I needed to leave Puerto Rico because I wanted to give my family a better life.” When Joseann Peralta Castro, a native of Puerto Rico, came to the United States in 2016, he was terrified of speaking English. “I would watch television shows before we left Puerto Rico to learn English,” said Peralta Castro.

Peralta Castro came from a lineage of teachers. Both of his parents and a grandfather were school principals. While many would think Peralta Castro’s path would lead him towards a career in education, his curiosity to answer the “whys” of the world would point him in a different direction.

“At some point, a teacher had told me I was going to be a scientist and I didn’t understand in that moment, but that definitely described me,” said Peralta Castro. “I was always looking at how things work, so when I realized that, it really helped me decide to go to school for computer science. I love everything about computers and technology, and I knew I could have success in that field.”

Peralta Castro graduated with a bachelor’s in computer science from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. After graduation, Peralta Castro was determined to come to the U.S. to pursue a career in that field. After working odd jobs while his wife finished her college degree, Peralta Castro and his family moved to Virginia in 2016.  

Once he settled in the U.S., he decided to take an English class to better his understanding of the language. After taking the intro exam to the class, the teachers determined he did not need to take the class.

“They told me that I knew English, but that I just needed to start speaking it,” Peralta Castro said. “I have gained vocabulary as I have worked with the terminology now, but if people were talking to me, I still understood. I just didn’t feel like I was ready to speak it yet, and that was my problem.”

Peralta Castro began his career with Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) in March 2017 when he served as a cybersecurity analyst. He has dedicated his career to the betterment of the AEGIS Weapon System, making technical and programmatic contributions that resulted in multiple cybersecurity changes and corrections. He currently serves as a service cybersecurity lead in the Cybersecurity Engineering Division within the Strategic and Computing Systems Department at NSWCDD.

“When I came to work with AEGIS, I saw gaps and I wanted to fix them,” Peralta Castro recalled. “I was not going to accept that this was just how we always do things. I identified the gaps and I fixed them. I didn’t want to do work that would just sit on a shelf. I wanted to do work that had purpose.”

“I love what I do and I can see that I am making a difference with my work,” said Peralta Castro.