Derius Galvez, a recent graduate student of Mississippi State University’s (MSU) Bagley College of Engineering — and a Northrop Grumman employee — was recently recognized by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) at its 44th annual convention. Derius received the Mike Shinn Distinguished Member of the Year award, presented annually to two NSBE members who exemplify the organization’s mission and values.
Derius was a Northrop Grumman intern and transitioned to a full-time quality engineer at the Palmdale, Calif., Aircraft Integration Center of Excellence. As a graduate student at MSU, Derius worked in the school’s Office of Diversity Programs and Student Development, where he mentored other engineering students. He also led coordination for the school’s Summer Bridge program and worked with other organizations at the school, including NSBE, Increasing Minority Access to Graduate Education and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
“Mentoring is about honesty and preparing others for opportunity. It’s a chance to cultivate and grow someone to be the best they can.”
We sat down with Derius and asked him to share his thoughts on winning the NSBE award, mentoring and beginning his career at Northrop Grumman.
What does winning the NSBE Distinguished Member of the Year award mean to you?
Derius: It’s first a blessing. It shows that the fruits of my labor have paid off and provides my mentees with a blueprint for a successful career.
Tell us about your mentoring experience at MSU.
Derius: When I first came to MSU, I was nervous about adjusting to college life. I went through the Summer Bridge program for incoming freshmen and met my first two mentors, Dr. Angela Verdell and Dr. Michael Hamilton. By reaching out to them and listening to their advice, I was encouraged to start mentoring other students. Over time, I connected with and helped those who needed guidance and encouragement to navigate the rigors of the MSU engineering program.
One of the most challenging points in my college career was during my junior year, when I was diagnosed with attention deficient disorder. At first, I struggled with the thought of having a learning disability; it was extremely discouraging. Thankfully, I was able to open up and talk with my mentors and professors. All of them offered wisdom, spiritual comfort and academic guidance on ways to continue accelerating my career.
What does mentoring mean to you?
Derius: Mentoring is about honesty and preparing others for opportunity. It’s a chance to cultivate and grow someone to be the best they can. An engineer from Chevron once told me that to go to school for an engineering degree is the academic equivalent of joining the Marine Corps. Because both of my parents are proud Marine veterans, I immediately took that comment to heart.
Tell us how you first heard about Northrop Grumman.
Derius: My sophomore year, I was talking with Dr. Tom Lacy, a professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, about career paths. He shared with me how he worked on the B-2 Spirit program during his time with Northrop Grumman. He spoke fondly of his time with the company.
The following spring, when I went to the NSBE national conference, I had a great talk with Tammy Stevens from Northrop Grumman's University Relations area. As a result, I was able to get into the Northrop Grumman summer internship program.
What made you decide to start your career at Northrop Grumman?
Derius: Two main reasons: My great internship experience with the company and my fiancée. I met a lot of talented, hardworking people through the internship program. It’s exciting to work for a company that cares deeply about its employees. My internship felt like a family environment. Secondly, my fiancée is a news producer and aspiring movie director. Our moving to Southern California will provide greater opportunity for her to build her career.
Are you planning to participate in mentoring at Northrop Grumman (either as a mentor or mentee)?
Derius: Absolutely! I want to mentor and guide fellow employees to help them develop professionally. I also wouldn’t mind being a mentee. For me to be successful in my role at Northrop Grumman, it’ll be important to talk with and get advice from those who have been around longer than me.
Northrop Grumman is hiring engineers in many locations. Click here to see current openings in quality engineering or in all areas of engineering.