Aviation Survival Technician
Master of Applied Positive Psychology, University of Pennsylvania ’18
Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature, Brown University ’11
Not everyone gets the job of their dreams, but Joseph Glaser-Reich started planning and preparing in college for his career as a rescue swimmer. “It's one of those jobs where you don't really have to wake up in the morning and wonder whether what you're doing is making a difference or not,” he laughs. Survival technicians like Joe are trained to maintain and repair survival equipment, administer emergency medical assistance, and work with a tightly coordinated team of aviation specialists to carry out maritime rescues via helicopter. Training is arduous; completing the qualifications places Joe in a select unit of the United States Coast Guard. “There aren’t that many of us,” says Joe, “It’s a small, incredibly diverse and awesome group of people.”
A liberal arts graduate who studied contemplative practices such as meditation in college, Joe found that he missed the academic rigor of his Ivy League undergraduate degree. “Enlisted jobs definitely require a high level of intelligence, but they tend to be more hands-on,” he explains. Attracted to positive psychology’s emphasis on body-mind integration, as well as founding scholar Martin Seligman’s work with resilience training for the U.S. Army, Joe pursued the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) to explore the question of how to support specialists in his field. “I am interested in what it is that determines who keeps going—who makes it through rescue swimmer school, who makes it through Navy SEAL training, who survives being shipwrecked at sea,” he reflects. For his capstone project, Joe worked with experts on sports psychology and military resilience to develop a suite of performance psychology skills that could be taught to aspiring rescue swimmers along with mindfulness meditation. “This could do some good for a group of people that I care about, who are doing really good work for other people,” says Joe. “For me, having this focus added a layer of complexity and nuance to the program.”
Since graduation, Joe balances active duty and mentorship of rescue swimmer candidates while remaining engaged with the MAPP program as an assistant instructor. “MAPP is a phenomenal academic environment to be in. It’s academia with heart,” says Joe. “Every individual in this program is doing something incredibly interesting, and the ability to sit down and talk with these people—to call them friends—was an unexpected and wonderful piece of the experience.”
Joe served on detail with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters to co-lead a DHS-wide mindfulness pilot from 2019-2021. Currently, he is teaching mindfulness and performance courses for University of California San Diego’s Center for Mindfulness and co-directing their First Responder Division.