Alumni Kinesiology Public Health

Lofty goals are one thing. Achieving them is better.

Presidential scholar and CPHHS alumnus doubled down with a dual degree in kinesiology and public health.

Presidential scholar and CPHHS alumnus Logan Weeks doubled down with multiple hands-on learning experiences and a dual degree in kinesiology and public health. He graduated from Oregon State University in 2018 and heads to nursing school this fall.

“The field of nursing is so dynamic and in many areas interwoven into the realm of public health,” he says. “There is no doubt my public health background will affect how I learn things in the nursing profession and how I apply what I have learned.”

Logan, 23, the oldest of five boys who grew up in Tillamook, Oregon, will begin the University of San Diego’s master’s entry program in nursing in August 2019. This 21-month accelerated program is designed for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in a different field. He says his interest in helping others and in public health comes from being the oldest sibling and understanding how each individual’s childhood shapes their life and health.

young man paddling out to surf
Photo credit: Jarett Juarez

Logan grew up playing many different sports and particularly enjoys surfing. “I love the ocean and spend a lot of time surfing.”

What was the best part of your experience at Oregon State?

There really is a reason OSU is consistently ranked among the best college towns in the country. The more I continued to get involved with organizations on campus, experiential learning opportunities and within the Corvallis community, the smaller OSU felt for me.

You were a Presidential Scholar. What difference did that make?

I was incredibly fortunate to be a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship and I am forever grateful to the OSU Foundation for funding my undergraduate education. Like many of my peer recipients, the Presidential Scholarship has largely shaped my life and educational journey. This award has made me driven to give back, provide assistance to others and make the world a better place.

What impact did research and experiential learning make?

The experiential learning opportunities I participated in were some of the best parts of my undergraduate experience. These opportunities allowed me to connect with other students, faculty and members of the Corvallis community. They not only provided impactful learning experiences, but also made Oregon State and Corvallis such an incredible place to live.

Both the public health and kinesiology degrees require students to participate in hands-on experiential learning credits, which I found fun and beneficial.

For kinesiology, I chose to volunteer at Crescent Valley High School as a wrestling coach and did so for three years. This position really allowed me to connect with the community, and I felt I was a positive role model for athletes. I appreciated this opportunity, and wrestling as a sport, because of its inclusiveness to individuals of all abilities. Wrestling provides a learning environment for youth to learn valuable life skills such as a positive work ethic, which related to community health, and is what sports and activity are really about.

I also participated in the OSU IMPACT program, which is a motor fitness and adapted physical activity program for youth with special needs. Volunteering at Crescent Valley High School and with IMPACT helped tie the kinesiology and public health degrees together for me.

Perhaps the most beneficial opportunity I had was working under Professor Joseph Catania on two research manuscripts related to the implementation of HIV screening. One manuscript focused on the LGBTQ+ community in Chicago, Illinois, and another on a community in Tanzania. This opportunity came about after taking the public health capstone course that Professor Catania taught on implementing a health program. Working with him taught me an incredible amount regarding the research process, the importance of culturally competent research within public health, and why we need to continue to explore and combat health disparities at the public health level. That experience allowed me to use and see firsthand all of the information I had learned in classes and see it being applied to make the world a better place.

In my opinion, the best part of the undergraduate public health major is the internship program, which all students participate in allowing them to apply their skills to a public health project with an outside organization.

I spent my internship working for the organization Empower Haiti Together, which is run by OSU alumna and Corvallis resident Aslan Noakes. This organization is doing incredible things to help provide sustainable health services in Haiti by Haitians. My work was focused on one of the organizations current projects to provide comprehensive hypertension screenings, education and treatment plans to individuals living in three rural Haitian communities. The opportunity to travel to Haiti and interact with individuals of the community, learn about their culture, the challenges and disparities they face and apply my public health knowledge was a fantastic experience.

Why did you pursue a public health degree?

I chose to pair public health and kinesiology originally because of my personal interests in physical activity and the relationship it has with preventing chronic diseases, which are the leading drivers of today’s health care costs. Over the course of my time at OSU, my interests became more public health oriented as I grew more passionate about health disparities and health determinates at community and global levels.

How did having a public health degree help in the process of applying to nursing school?

I think my public health degree and related public health experiences made all the difference in applying to nursing programs.

During my application and interview process, many of the interviewers were impressed by my experiences, such as the internship and capstone course Planning and Evaluating Health Promotion Programs. These experiences are all built into the curriculum and significantly helped my application.

Why pursue nursing? What are your goals in the field?

Nursing is currently the nation’s largest health care profession, and the demand for nurses is continuing to increase, so I see nursing as a prosperous career field to be a part of. Nursing allows me to provide assistance and aid to others in need, and I see this as a very fulfilling career.

I have a lot to learn in the next two years before I narrow to any particular areas in nursing; however, my interest in public health will likely shape those. Ultimately, my career aspirations are to become a nurse practitioner and eventually a nurse educator working on global health projects. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

One thing that was beneficial for me was taking a year off and working between my time at OSU and attending graduate school. I spent the last nine months working for the Oregon Department of Human Services in the Child Protective Services department. During this time, I worked on a team with five caseworkers to conduct and assist with the child safety assessment process. This work was challenging, and I gained a lot of insight on what direction I would like to take in my future.

I chose to work in the field of CPS because I knew I wanted to attend nursing school after the year but felt some insight from a different capacity of helping others would be beneficial to my career. My educational background at Oregon State served as a very strong foundation for working at CPS and I was able to see how various social determinants and disparities affect families. Putting all of these experiences together makes me excited to continue my education.