Oregon State ranks high for serving veterans and active duty military — on campus and online.
Oregon State University and the U.S. military have had strong ties from the start. The first Cadet Corps was formed in 1872, and during World War II, Oregon State became known at the West Point of the West, producing more officers than any other non-military academy in the nation.
And we’re still serving those who serve. Oregon State University and Oregon State Ecampus have earned the Military Friendly School designation every year since G.I. Jobs magazine began producing the list in 2009. Military Advanced Education & Transition named Oregon State a Top School in its 2016 MAE&T Guide to Colleges & Universities.
Richard Erfurth: From battlefield to classroom
Richard Erfurth’s adaptability and dedication has taken him from the battlefield in Afghanistan to a degree in kinesiology at Oregon State.
A hospital corpsman from 2007-2012, Erfurth was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with combat distinguishing service for heroic achievement. While under enemy fire, he treated a wounded Marine and an Afghan National Army soldier and transported them out of the combat zone.
Going from the U.S. Navy to Oregon State “was a big adjustment,” Erfurth says, “but the structure and commitment the college takes to help me be a successful student helped me in my transition.”
Erfurth quickly stood out in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
“Richard is one of the most enthusiastic students I have ever taught and worked with,” says Assistant Professor Sam Logan. “He has a genuine desire to help others, and it comes through from the moment you meet him. He is kind and intelligent, and we are proud to have him as an alumnus.”
Erfurth says being in combat helped to show him what is truly important. Having earned his degree this year, Erfurth is on to his next mission: continuing his education with the ultimate goal of becoming a physician assistant focusing on trauma/orthopedic and trauma/sports medicine.
Rhonda Wise: Taking a new direction
For 13 years, Rhonda Wise was an electronics maintenance technician in the U.S. Navy, proud to serve and serving well. But tech work, a field chosen for her by recruiting station personnel, was always missing something.
After transitioning out of the Navy and homeschooling her children, Wise was ready to focus on her career — and for the first time, she got to choose what direction to take.
Extensive research for academic and lifestyle flexibility pointed her to Oregon State Ecampus.
“Once I saw the wide array of degrees and classes offered within my field of interest, I ended my search,” Wise says. “I knew Oregon State was the place for me.”
Studying from 2,000 miles away in San Antonio, Texas, Wise thrived in Oregon State’s online learning environment. She eagerly engaged with classmates and faculty members who shared her passion for natural resources management. One instructor, Dave Stemper in the College of Forestry, recognized her enthusiasm for sharing knowledge and encouraged to pursue a career in environmental interpretation.
“Even though we never met face-to-face, he is the person who had the most influence on my academic journey, as well as my future employment in interpretation,” Wise says.
Soon after earning her degree in natural resources, Wise accepted a position as a seasonal interpretive park ranger at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Texas. She’s also enrolled in the Ecampus graduate certificate program in wildlife management.
“Completing my degree opened up a new direction for my life, a direction consciously and deliberately chosen by me,” Wise says. “It’s exciting to think of all of the possibilities and the opportunities available to me.”
Cover photo courtesy of Richard Erfurth.