Home : Media : News : Saved News Module

From Refugee to Successful Navy Engineer – NSWC Dahlgren Division Employee Uses Life Lessons to Find Opportunity

By NSWC Dahlgren Corporate Communications | May 15, 2020

DAHLGREN, Va. – Dhruva Mishra could have given up early in life and allowed tragedy to impact his destiny. After being forced to leave his native country of Bhutan, Mishra spent nearly two decades in a refugee camp in Nepal. Despite living through some of the most inhuman conditions one can imagine, Mishra has been able to use the learned skills of resilience, mental toughness and emotional intelligence to make himself into a successful Navy employee today.

Conditions at the refugee camp in Nepal were dangerous and inadequate. From no sanitation to diseases (cholera, typhoid, malaria) to violence via fighting in close quarters and food rations, there did not seem to be a glimmer of hope for Mishra and the other refugees.

The sight of his world evaporating before his eyes became too much for him, and he, along with other educated people in his camp, knew they had to do something to stop the destruction of his people. 

He helped established a school at his refugee camp. Although Mishra and his team did not have the luxury of classrooms, pens, pencils and paper, they were determined to educate refugees on the importance of education—even if it meant speaking to them from a muddy riverbank or under a tree. He spent five years teaching at the refugee camp before he went on to finish his own education.

Mishra completed his undergraduate work in mathematics and statistics at St. Xavier’s College in Gujarat, India, and his graduate degree in mathematics from Tribhuvan University in Nepal. He was able to get a job teaching at an international school in Nepal, where he eventually became a math department head. He held this position for five years before deciding to resettle in the United States as a refugee in November 2009.

After moving to the United States, he got a job at a hotel, where he took advantage of every opportunity that came his way. His career branched off when he took on a position as a marketing manager at an information technology company and taught math at a community college in Richmond, Va. Eventually, Mishra got a full-time teaching position at a private university in Richmond where he taught mathematics for seven years.

Mishra joined the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) as a civilian scientist in April 2018 where he worked as a configuration manager before changing teams to work as a scrum master on a scrum team that developed software for the warfighter. In order to broaden his technical skillset, he currently is on detail with the High Energy Laser Control and Architecture Branch as production and deployment lead for Joint Laser Deconfliction Safety Software. He is also the software lead for the High Energy Laser Expeditionary Weapon System project.

“There is an opportunity hidden inside every difficulty; persevere and learn from it,” he said. “If you set the time right and do the right thing, the stars will align for you one day.”

Mishra is the NSWCDD featured employee for Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. The observance of the month is an occasion to remember the patriotism of AAPIs who have served, or are currently serving, in the Department of Defense and the nation. 

The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute has chosen the theme for this year’s observance as “Honoring the Past, Securing the Future!” in honor of the 75th Anniversary of World War II. The service of Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians before and during World War II paved the way for future generations of men and women to join what would become in 1948, a desegregated U.S. military. The United States remains forever indebted to the World War II veterans, who demonstrated selfless service and sacrifice in defense of global peace and security.

NSWCDD’s mission is to provide research, development, test and evaluation, analysis, systems engineering, integration and certification of complex naval warfare systems related to surface warfare, strategic systems, combat and weapons systems associated with surface warfare. The command also provides system integration and certification for weapons, combat systems and warfare systems and fulfills other responsibilities assigned by the NSWC commander.