Experiences in a lifetime

University of Wisconsin-Platteville Alumni, Curt Patrouille shared his story of how to keep a positive outlook on life while having obstacles thrown your way. He experienced being badly burned at age 18, lost his mother at 20, spent 30 years in the military and has had multiple deployments while married and having children. Throughout all this, he has kept a positive outlook on life by having resilience and bouncing back from adversity.

“I’m just an ordinary guy who married an extraordinary woman with a beautiful family,” Patrouille said.

On Feb. 21, Patrouille reached out to the audience and asked what the word “resilience” means to them. Resilience is a tool and the ability to bounce back from change. He believes we have to figure out which one of those tools works for us to make us stronger. When he was 18, he was participating in a demolition derby, and while he was pouring gas on the carburetor, the gas ignited. Not only did the car catch fire, so did he. Patrouille spent nearly three months in the hospital going through surgeries and recovering for years after that.

Soon after, his mother passed away after battling cancer for 12 years. He said life threw him a curve ball when his mom passed, but it’s something you have to deal with and get through. His sister was also in a serious car accident that involved a head on collision with a truck pulling a cattle trailer going 55 mph. The Patrouille family thought they were going to lose her, however, she survived.

After enduring extremely difficult situations, he had his first deployment, but having young children made it the most difficult time to leave. After facing many difficult obstacles, Patrouille was able to use resilience and always has a positive outlook and outcome on life.

Patrouille then discussed two factors needed in order to develop in order to possess resilience.

“The first objective you need is hunt the good stuff,” Patrouille said. Stop emphasizing the bad things going on in life. Instead, focus on the good and positive things we have done to make us better. The second objective is, “active constructive responding.”Use communication to develop stronger and better relationships. Focus on making an imprint with someone and actually develop strong relationships. If we have these objectives, we should have a healthier and happier life. Patrouille also believes that we should not let others determine our success in life and not to sweat the small stuff.

“A big thing in my life is sorting out the important priorities versus the small ones. His entire speech tied in on ideas you can do to help yourself not be so bogged down by the little things, to count your blessings, and find the good things in life,” senior education major, Trina Exe said.

Other students will be able to use Patrouille’s method as well. Sandie Brick-Margelofsky, Wright Center Director, thought it was great having an alumnus come back and be able to relate to students academically. Patrouille said he didn’t do so well grade wise his first semester.

“He realized it was up to him to make those changes,” Brick-Margelofsky said.

Patrouille’s resilience method is a good tool to keep us on track and have a positive outlook on life in order to overcome adversity.

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