As a young girl, Gail Herring knew she wanted a career in either medicine or business. When she was considering where to go to college, her decision came down to three simple things: accreditation, proximity to her hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, and friends. East Carolina University fit the bill—it had a great reputation in both business and medicine, it was close to her hometown, and most of her high school friends were attending ECU—and Herring became a Pirate.
Shortly after arriving at ECU, Herring decided to major in business and quickly discovered her passion, sports. She joined any intramural team she could find, whether it was flag football, softball or soccer. Never one to be uninvolved, Herring also pledged service sorority Gamma Sigma Sigma and joined Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Through both organizations she was constantly volunteering to do more and to give back to the Pirate Nation.
In 1980, with her business degree in hand, she started applying for jobs.
"(My) education prepared me for finance or banking. Having that background (from ECU) on my resume opened many doors. My career just kind of happened—I got married moved to Greensboro and got a job in a small bank, like my mother."
This small step into the world of banking started her career off with a bang. Now as the senior vice president of retail banking for First Citizens Bank in Pender and New Hanover counties, she has never felt more gratified.
"Developing others is my drive, and the favorite part of my job," Herring said. "I love to help someone grow in their role as a banker, coaching them to improve in their role as a trusted advisor to our customers. That's what excites me about getting up and going to work every day."
Herring moved back to Wilmington in 1996 but still bleeds purple and gold. Her son and daughter-in-law both earned their undergraduate degrees at ECU, and her grandson's entire wardrobe is Pirate gear. Her son and daughter-in-law are expecting a baby girl soon and Herring has already picked out the baby's ECU cheerleading outfit.
"We will raise them as Pirates just like we did our son," she said.
In 2009, Herring read about the Women's Roundtable in EC Alumni and joined immediately. When she was approached to join the board of directors, she readily agreed and took on two leadership roles, treasurer and chair of the Incredible ECU Women's Series: Investing in the Future, which was held in October 2010. Herring put her heart and soul into that event, which was attended by more than 300 people.
"It was a labor of love," she explained. Although it was time consuming and difficult at times she would not have traded the experience for the world.
"Meeting the keynote speaker, Jean Chatzky from NBC's Today, spending time with her, and seeing the significant impact the Women's Roundtable makes at ECU was one of the highlights of my career."
Herring continues her support for ECU and the Women's Roundtable through her service on the board of directors and as chair of the leadership committee. She lives by the philosophy, "never give up," and that philosophy has served her—and ECU—well. Now, she is using that philosophy to reach out to alumni in different locations and encourage them to support ECU and the Women's Roundtable.
In August Herring reached out to the Wilmington-based Cape Fear Pirates to ask if the Women's Roundtable could be a part of their annual Football Kick-Off Party. They readily agreed, and many of the attendees joined the Women's Roundtable. By recruiting new members and creating awareness, the Women's Roundtable will continue to grow and support more students through the Access Scholarship Program and the Honors College. That is part of what drives Herring's involvement with the Women's Roundtable.
"The Women's Roundtable is the best involvement with the university because it connects you with other ECU women; it is gratifying and most rewarding."
--Jackie Ziegler '12