A multilingual scholar who’s zealous about the student academic journey, Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) Associate Dean of Student Affairs Pranaya Mishra, PhD, has been living the “American Dream” for nearly three years. His Nepal roots and modest upbringing start the story of how this compassionate Floridian treasures each day — sprinkling in humor as he continues to inspire students and encourages them to question everything.
“I tell them to keep the flame of inquisition burning — to keep asking why, how and what. It keeps them engaged in a conversation; they can explore the world with that inquisitiveness. It is rewarding to help students navigate situations and accomplish their dreams,” he said, countering with the biggest challenge — managing student expectations.
The youngest of five children, Pranaya and his brothers willingly veered toward a career in health care, after witnessing the respect and admiration given to their father — a doctor in Nepal in the 1950s who rode horseback to provide home patient care for 30 years. “It’s such an enriching moment when people in your village praise you because you’re the doctor’s son. You cherish that connection.”
Traveling Around the World
Pranaya followed his father’s recommendation to study pharmacy and was awarded undergraduate and graduate scholarships to Bangladesh. Degrees in hand, he moved back to Nepal to work at a medical school and then ventured to Denmark, on another scholarship, to earn his doctorate degree. Starting his career as a professor in Nepal, Pranaya held various other faculty positions before landing an associate dean for student affairs job at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) in St. Maarten, another Adtalem Global Education institution. Four years later, he joined RUSM.
“I get inspired by the people around me, my colleagues,” Pranaya said about his tenure in higher education. “They do a selfless job for students and the university. I try to emulate that and live moment to moment.”
The father of two daughters, a third grader and college freshman, Pranaya aims to impart two life lessons — the importance of interacting with nature and breaking free from the digital world. “Every moment is spent on the phones. I remind them to enjoy the outdoors and have personal interactions; to visit in person or talk on the phone instead of texting. One-on-one communications are declining; we can’t lose track of being human and maintaining those personal connections.”
Keeping Pranaya grounded is his wife of 20 years — an elementary-school teacher, the family disciplinarian and an amazing cook who hands him kitchen rights on Sundays. Their Hindu nuptials may have been prearranged, a long-abandoned cultural practice, but their relationship thrives on mutual respect and agreeing to disagree.
One of their joint passions is giving back to the less fortunate. They plan to assist students who cannot afford education and patients who cannot afford treatments, a charitable act Pranaya practiced years ago. He also has collected food donations for the poor and cleaned up impoverished neighborhoods.
“We have one life and we have to live it. There will always be negative things, but we have to turn that around with positive thinking and positive action. You should feel lucky with what you have and what you’ve accomplished — don’t ever compare yourself to someone who has more success. Live in the present — do not harp about the past or get lost in the future.”
Pranaya’s Claim to Fame
Met former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, co-founder of The Carter Center in Nepal, which is committed to preserving human rights and alleviating human suffering. “His vision and effort toward building governance is so valuable and needed in third-world countries. He’s spending his retirement making the world a better place to live.”
Pranaya’s Bucket List
- Trek in the foothills of higher Nepalese Himalayas
- Climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
- Participate in a Kenyan safari
- Explore Africa
Pranaya’s Fun Facts
- Cooks family dinner every Sunday, specializing in chicken curry, which earned him bragging rights — his daughters voted his dish #1
- Embarrassing but funny college moment — while traveling to a rural section of Bangladesh in an overcrowded boat that began sinking; “one of my friends had to jump in and save me because I didn’t know how to swim”
- Fluent in six languages (and starting to learn Spanish); his favorite word in each language is the equivalent of “awesome” in English:
- Nepali — Ramro
- Maithili — Neek
- Hindi — Achaa
- Bangla — Bhaalo
- Bhojpuri — Badhiya
- Paying it Forward:
- Established Drug Information and Pharmacovigilance Center at Manipal Teaching Hospital, in collaboration with the U.S. Pharmacopeia Drug Quality and Information (USPDQI) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
- Found the Medication Counseling Center at Manipal Teaching Hospital in Pokhara, Nepal
- Editor-in-chief of Drug Information and Pharmacovigilance (Vigil) Bulletin, a quarterly publication from the Drug Information Center, Manipal Teaching Hospital
Pranaya’s This or That
- Become an Animal — dog; “it’s pampered and treated like a family member”
- Have a Superpower — “end COVID so I can visit friends and family”
- Celebrity for a Day — Morgan Freeman
- Described by Others as — fun-loving, serious but not at the expense of humor
- Advice to His 15-Year-Old Self — “you don’t have to put pressure on yourself to emulate your family members who are accomplishing a lot; do whatever you want to do, grow on your own and follow your instinct”
Pranaya’s Fast Favorites
- Book — “Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present”
- Movies — “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Eat Pray Love,” “Invictus” and “Million Dollar Baby”
- TV — “Designated Survivor”
- Quote — “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” by Maya Angelou.
- Compliment to Give Others — “You never cease to inspire me.”
- Compliment Received — “Just don’t change!” from a colleague
- Advice — “Live in present, do your best and do not worry about the success.”
- Scenic Place in Nepal — Pokhara
- Memory of His Mother — “she was a housewife who was the least educated in the house but the wisest — patient, never gave up; she knew how to run a family. I took her to see parts of Nepal and India; she was thankful and proud. She reminded me that it’s how you behave and conduct yourself that matters and that your home can become your pilgrimage; to be respectful to others and live with humility.”
- Memory of his Father — “he was a non-serious person who loved to play soccer. He was on the board of trustees for the high school and used to distribute class prizes every year. I’d always get second or third place. He hugged everyone who earned a prize. I’ll never forget how he hugged me that day and lifted me into the air.”