Airman joins the forces with a Ph.D., embodiment of excellence in all we do

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Morgan Dailey
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing

The only sounds echoing throughout the house are the tapping of the computer keyboard and occasional click of the mouse. Another warm, calm California night. The perfect time to scroll through unread emails from throughout the day.

She wasn’t searching for anything in particular, but one email caught her attention. The subject line simply stated, “Your career starts here! Join the U.S. Air Force.” One little email from a recruiter would change the course of her life, once she stopped believing it was a scam.

“I did not reply to that person, but he kept messaging me for weeks,” said Senior Airman Shweta Mittal, a dental assistant assigned to the 92nd Operational Medical Readiness Squadron. “Even my husband thought it was a scam and we weren’t going to fall for it.”

The emails kept coming from the same person, and Mittal eventually decided to hear him out. It was the height of COVID 19 and everything was shut down, including her career opportunities. After many nights of research and multiple meetings with the relentless recruiter, Mittal enlisted into the United States Air Force in December of 2020.

Even though Mittal never expected to join the military, she decided that no matter the challenges it might bring, she could handle them.

“I’m the kind of person who loves to work under pressure because it brings out the best in me,” said Mittal. “I want to be in a challenging environment, which is why I believe the military is a good spot for me.”

Mittal grew up in Meerut, a small city near the capitol of India. she explained that she always loved researching and finding the “why” behind every question, and that’s how she knew she would go to college for her doctorate someday.

In 2011, Mittal received Ph.D in biotechnology degree from Banasthali University by Pranab Mukherjee BR, the former president of India. After receiving her degree, she began working as a research scientist at a university in India.

“My dad always pushed me to study and choose my own dreams because India is a male-dominated society,” said Mittal. “He said ‘if you study hard enough and become something, you’re going to rule your own life.’”

Only a few years later, Mittal and her family began packing their bags to move to the United States. In 2015, they finally made the to move to New York for her husband’s job.

Mittal was a stay-at-home mom for a few years due to her husband’s job moving them every six months, but California eventually became a more permanent location, allowing her to return to work at a research company. She worked with them for two years before making the switch to the military.

“The best part of the Air Force is that they welcome every culture [and] treat every religion equally,” she said. “When I joined, it never felt like I was any different from those around me. It felt like I was a part of something larger than myself.”

While Mittal was going through her technical training, she received the honor graduate award and a coin of excellence from her commander. Once she graduated from tech school, the military brought her and her family to Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington.

“I’m really fortunate to be working with such a great team in the dental clinic,” said Mittal. “The doctor I assist always addresses me as a doctor and gives me that respect.”

Despite the Hindu community in Spokane being small, Mittal and her family have been committed to making an impact. She choreographed a performance with children for a Diwali celebration at the Square Mall in Riverfront Park.

She also created a cultural skit with the kids so attendees could understand Diwali and what it means to the Indian culture.

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, celebrate on the darkest night of the year in the Hindu month of Kartik. The celebration is five days long and the festival symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over bad, and knowledge over ignorance.

In October 2022, Spokane county appreciated her family’s work at the Spokane Hindu Cultural Center towards the Indian community, and October was declared as Hindu American Heritage and Appreciation month by Breean Beggs, Spokane City Council president.

Today, Mittal teaches Hindi classes for children to provide them the ability to connect with their families back in India.

“We want to give those kids an opportunity to learn Hindi, the language they can use to connect with their grandparents,” said Mittal. “No matter where you were raised [or] where you live now, you still carry your cultural values that you want to teach your children.”

Mittal understands with her fountain of knowledge and expertise, she has a lot to offer the Air Force. She explains that her career goal is to become a biomedical officer and work for the Air Force Research Laboratories.

While Mittal never expected her life to bring her to America, let alone join the Air Force, she said it has been an amazing experience.