Published first on the Progress News, January 25, 2021

Like so many of us, Joseph Croskey’s journey has been a winding road, part strategy and intention and part luck and circumstance.  Continual life redevelopment, one could say!  He originally studied engineering as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and then utilized that training as a reconnaissance officer in the Army.  After leaving the service, Croskey’s expertise in engineering and leadership led him into a role with a chemical firm, where he picked up skills in sales and marketing.  That, in turn, led to a position with a software company, where he added IT training to his resume. 

His continually growing skillset, and the realization that he enjoyed the realm of education, led to Croskey’s first teaching position with the University of Pittsburgh.  Since 2007, however, he has been a fixture at Clarion University, helping students succeed as the Director of the Act 101 Program, Director of the University Advising Services Center, mindfulness and meditation trainer, and all-around chill guy.  Somewhere in there he found time to complete a master’s degree in Educational Technology Leadership and a PhD in Organizational Leadership.

I’ve known Dr. Croskey for several years now, and he is one of the calmest, most considerate, and level-headed people I have ever met.  As I’ve learned about his journey, both in terms of his career and his inner peace, I’ve realized how valuable the internal skills he has cultivated have been to his success, and how they are relevant and valuable to us all.  Change is inevitable, after all, in redevelopment as in life, and if we are able to view difficulties with humor, grace, and calm, we can find the positives and build on them.  “There are going to be challenges,” Dr. Croskey noted.  “If there aren’t challenges, then… well, think of a movie without challenges.  It wouldn’t be a good movie!  If they are big challenges, then it makes it a better movie!” 

I sometimes like to think of redevelopment work in terms of a potential movie script (though all of the boring administrative bits get lost in the required musical montage sequence), so the metaphor was particularly on point for me.  Dr. Croskey remarked that the larger the results or impacts we are trying to achieve, the larger the challenges are likely to be…so, I’m hoping our own local story will be an amazing movie one day!  What I’ve really learned from this incredible man, though, is that although we can’t control what challenges may come, or whether or not anyone ever makes a movie about our exploits, we can absolutely control how we respond to the trials and tribulations life throws at us.

This is the heart of mindfulness.  Dr. Croskey explained that mindfulness allows us “to recognize when emotions are generating a reaction” and that we can “be aware and present with these emotions and accept them,” but we do not have to react.  We can, rather, take our time and choose how to respond, based on who we want to be and what is important to us.  As our regional redevelopment progresses, I look forward to facing challenges together, in a space of intention and consideration, mindful of what is important to us, and what sort of community we want to be.