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Securing America’s Future:

The Power of Liberal Arts Education

S. Aaron Marks

Dentist, Marks Family Dentistry
Hampden-Sydney College (VA), Class of 1998
S. Aaron Marks, DDS, is in private practice with his father, Norman, and brother, Brandon, in Mechanicsville, Virginia. He is a fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry in 2002. He also is a 2012 graduate of the Kois Center in Seattle, Washington.

Marks graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 1998, receiving the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. He has been an active alumnus, including taking part in several mission trips to Honduras and Belize to help build medical clinics and perform dental treatment.
In my mind, dental school would prepare me for my career; my biology major from Hampden-Sydney would help me get there. In reality though, dental school trained me for the teeth part of my job. Hampden-Sydney prepared me for life and all of the aspects of my career beyond teeth.
 
Professors at Hampden-Sydney expected a lot from us, but they also gave a lot. My classes rarely exceeded 25 students, so we were not only expected to be in class but also to be active participants. Writing was emphasized heavily, even in my sciences classes. Learning to write well, articulate my point of view, and communicate clearly has been incredibly important to me in life and my career.
 

Today, my liberal arts education has become critical to me as a small business owner...I wear many different hats throughout the day, and I must pull from many different areas to help run our family business.

 
The liberal arts environment at Hampden-Sydney did not stop when we walked out of the classroom. I was able to become involved in several areas of campus life that made college a better experience and helped me to grow as a person. I was invited to dinners at the homes of my professors, administrators, and coach, and these relationships fostered a sense of community that went beyond the typical college environment.
 
Today, my liberal arts education has become critical to me as a small business owner. I will not have seven jobs during my career, but I wear many different hats throughout the day, and I must pull from many different areas to help run our family business. In dental school, we are taught the basics in the science and art of dentistry. However, I credit Hampden-Sydney College and its liberal arts curriculum with providing me with the skill set to help make our business successful. I also believe the foundation for many of my interests, hobbies, and community involvement comes from my experiences at Hampden-Sydney.
 
I knew early on that I wanted to be a dentist and feel fortunate that I was able to continue down that career path. Hampden-Sydney’s liberal arts curriculum, however, forced me out of my comfort zone and made me grow so that I would be ready to tackle the challenges I face. Had I changed my career goals or simply not known what I wanted “to be,” that same education would have been a great foundation to take me down a different path.
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