#NobleIntegrity: Mark Herring ’09
Pediatric dentist Mark Herring ’09 goes to work every day with the intention of “helping kids out”—a theme that runs central to his profession and volunteer work.
“During my time at Mercersburg, I was very much aware of my privilege of being at the school, and I knew that not every kid has these opportunities,” said Herring. “I have taken a lot of time to reflect on that and have taken the time to pay it forward for other folks who are not as lucky.”
Consequently, Herring has served others in a variety of ways. As an undergrad at North Carolina State University, Herring was a campus mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle. He has led mission trips to Guatemala and the Dominican Republic; the latter was a medical-service trip while he was in dental school and included teaching dental hygiene and nutrition to elementary-school students and training adults in health-care literacy so they can be a resource for others. During his dental residency, Herring worked in a joint dental and medical residence program, staffing a clinic at homeless shelters in Philadelphia dedicated to women and children. He has also served Mercersburg as Reunion Weekend committee chair for his class’s 10-year reunion.
Herring speaks Spanish daily in his dental practice and has used it often as a volunteer. He credits Mercersburg teachers Wendy Valenteen P ’06 and Tom Rahauser ’74, P ’05, ’07, ’12 for fostering and encouraging his interest in the language. “I had originally enrolled in dental school thinking I would go into general dentistry, but I saw a need for providers who are comfortable working with children, plus those who speak Spanish,” he says. “They [Valenteen and Rahauser] encouraged me to keep it going and it had a real impact on me. I use it on a daily basis and there aren’t a lot of practitioners in our area who speak Spanish.”
Herring realized his desire to work in pediatrics while serving as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow at East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine . The program allowed him to design his own project, teaching oral hygiene in public schools and enrolling children in a school dental-based program where the local community health center would send a hygienist to the school, clean the students’ teeth, and refer them to a dentist if they saw
any signs of disease. The program assisted more than 500 elementary-school students.
“That whetted my appetite for working in pediatrics and after starting that program, I just fell in love in working with kids,” Herring says.
Herring is as an associate pediatric dentist at High House Pediatric Dentistry in Cary, North Carolina, and Southern Smiles Pediatric Dentistry in Cameron, North Carolina. In addition to his degrees from NC State (a dual degree in biology and Spanish) and ECU, Herring holds a Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry from Penn Dental Medicine.