Higher Education Series Spotlights Norwich University: Q&A with Alumnus Eric Curtis

by Carla Occaso

 

Occaso: Tell us about yourself.

Curtis: I am a Norwich University graduate with the class of 1998. I live in Salisbury, Massachusetts, with my wife, Therese, and two boys, Sean (11) and Marcus (4). …

Occaso: What is your current profession?

Curtis: President of Curtis Company, a consulting firm specializing in strategic planning for nonprofit organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Occaso: Do you think your experience at Norwich University helped you get your current job?

Curtis: Yes, Norwich has played a major role in helping to shape my character, confidence, resilience and leadership abilities. Norwich has contributed to my ability to start up and grow my consulting firm. I have had to deal with many ups and downs during my time as a business owner, and the skills I acquired at Norwich taught me a lot about how to deal with adversity.

Norwich is more than just freshman through senior year. It is a connection to a very strong and committed alumni network. Four years ago my firm was just starting to gain momentum and I ran into a few slow quarters, which was a real financial challenge to overcome. I reached out to a Norwich alumnus who provided me with hours of his time to help me get organized and back on track with my business. I am forever grateful for that advice and support. I know that I have several alumni whom I can call any time to ask questions, and they are more than willing to help. …

Norwich made a big difference in my business life by the attributes acquired during my four years on campus, and the alumni and staff who continue to be a big part of my life.

Occaso: How did you learn about Norwich University?

Curtis: I had always known that I wanted to go to a military college, and it only took one trip to the campus to realize that I found my school. The campus is beautiful and sold me right away. … So I applied for early acceptance, got in, and didn’t bother applying to any other university. It was the right fit and a decision I am thankful for making every day.

Occaso: Tell us a bit about the program.

Curtis: Norwich is a proud accomplishment. My four years were very challenging both mentally and physically. It is hard to describe the success of the program. It is a true experience, which is what I think makes it different from other schools.

Occaso: What was your favorite part of the program?

Curtis: My favorite part of Norwich University is the bonds created with my classmates. There is some kind of secret sauce the university produced, and it carries with you throughout the rest of your life. You really do feel part of a family, and the older I get the more thankful I become for all that Norwich has done to shape my life then and now.

Occaso: What do you feel makes Norwich University unique?

Curtis: The challenges imposed by the experience, which is a blend of academics and the Corps of Cadets, generates a bond to the school, classmates and alumni. You feel like you have accomplished something others have not or could not, and that confidence carries forward throughout the rest of your life.

Leadership is also a major part of what the school instills in all students—not just in theory, but also in practice. … For example they have developed a Coaching for Leadership program that pairs students and alumni together using case studies. Groups of students have the opportunity to read, analyze and collaboratively solve real-world complex problems, while being reviewed by alumni as their personal coaches. This program is helping students to become more self-aware as leaders and connecting successful alumni leaders to them during their junior year. This is just one example of Norwich’s commitment to developing leaders.

Occaso: What is the average student at Norwich University like?

Curtis: The students at Norwich seem to be driven and know what they want in life. It seems every student I speak with on campus has a vision of what they want to do after graduation. I think that is a rare thing in today’s world of higher education.

I had the pleasure of employing a senior as an intern with my firm, and was very impressed with her ability, confidence, and intelligence. She was so impressive that I asked her to manage a client account, which she did successfully and professionally. The Norwich students have made great interns for my firm.

Occaso: Do you have any standout experiences you wish to share?

Curtis: Too many to be able to share all, but the one that comes to mind is my time training with the Ranger Platoon. It was the most physically demanding thing I have ever done and I managed to do things I never thought I could—like carry a person up the ski hill next to campus, spending three days hiking, conducting field exercises, all on no sleep and carrying rucksacks that were 70 to 90 pounds. I truly learned what it meant to reach down deep inside and push through the elite training. That is the type of school Norwich is in the world of higher education: elite.

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