Alumni Features Kinesiology Public Health

Where can an OSU degree take you?

For one alum, it’s advising the Navy’s COVID-19 response oversees

Eric Vaught

By Kathryn Stroppel

When you’re a public health emergency officer in the U.S. Navy, during a pandemic no less, you need to be prepared to lead. And for Eric Vaught, that preparation began at Oregon State.

Eric is the public health emergency officer for the Navy Region in Europe, Africa and Central Asia, and is stationed in Naples, Italy. He is the principal public health advisor to the region’s Navy commanders in the preparation, mitigation, response, and eventual recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

From Woodland, Washington, Eric earned his undergraduate degree from the College of Public Health and Human Sciences in 2004 before completing medical training at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences and earning an MPH.

“I chose Oregon State University for the opportunity to pursue a non-traditional, pre-medicine track and earn a degree in exercise and sport science (Editor’s note: now kinesiology) with a focus in athletic training,” he says. “The athletic training didactic and clinical education on patient-centered care prepared me well for a career in medicine as a physician.”

Commissioned in the U.S. Navy upon starting medical school in 2004, Eric has served in a variety of health care roles at duty stations around the world. He says his understanding of public health communication, risk management principles, and social behavioral theories has helped him implement positive and practical strategies to keep those living in the communities he oversees safe.

Eric Vaught on camera

“Many European countries instituted drastic measures by shutting down all forms of travel and requiring people to stay home for over two months,” he says. “I worked with Naval leaders in developing ways to keep the community safe, while maintaining the operational effectiveness of our military in the region and protecting our loved ones back stateside.”

Eric is one of many Oregon State graduates working around the world to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Although much work has already been done in 2020 to flatten the disease curve, much work remains,” he says, “and public health professionals will be called upon to continue to communicate effectively and educate the members of our communities.”