A global health crisis, racial injustice, an economic downturn, raging fires raising concerns for the earth — this doesn’t feel like a time to celebrate.
If someone had asked me last fall about my Ring Day plans, I would have happily told them that I decided to wait a semester in order to travel to Italy with over 30 other students for a study abroad. What was supposed to be a three month trip to a place I’d dreamed my whole life of seeing turned into a brief adventure in a country facing the second largest COVID-19 infection rate. It ended in a three-day panic of students frantically trying to find a way home. For two weeks after our return, our entire group isolated, only for the entirety of Texas to close down on our last day of quarantine.
Through all of this, I couldn’t stop thinking about my decision to hold off ordering my ring. I was determined to have a Ring Day in Aggieland. Waiting for my 10-hour flight from Frankfurt, Germany, to Houston, my peers passed their rings over seats and across aisles to help me find my ring size in hopes that a classmate’s connection to The Association of Former Students would help to approve my last-minute ring order. While that didn’t work out, I’ll never forget sitting in that plane, completely exhausted, with a pile of Aggie Rings on my lap. Each had a unique size, style and engraving, and I felt the weight of each connection wrapped around my finger.
That is what an Aggie Ring represents — connection. Whether it be with current and former students, friends, family or a stranger, this small bit of gold is a reminder that Aggies are an ever-growing network of people that represent the Core Values and have each other’s backs.
As I began my journey in Aggieland a little over two years ago, I had no idea what the student network was like. My parents had no ties to A&M (and may have even sported some UT paraphernalia at one point), but I’d chosen to follow in the footsteps of my two older brothers. I won’t pretend part of the reason I wanted my Aggie Ring wasn’t because they had both already earned theirs; sibling rivalry is an excellent motivator. So I owe them a thank you, for taking those difficult steps before me and helping me on my journey. I couldn’t have navigated eCampus, registered for classes or suffered through an atrociously hot football game at Kyle Field without their advice.
I’ve gotten the chance to experience two years of Aggie traditions and be a part of the incredible community of journalists that create The Battalion. This ring is a token of all the late night trips to Fuego after production and early mornings waiting to pull tickets for a football game. Even if I won’t get the traditional, grand moment of receiving my ring and opening up the box in the alumni center, the 90 hours of work I put in to achieve it isn’t any less noteworthy. I can’t wait to share this special moment with my parents as their last kid opens up that little maroon box and to stand by my brothers while the three of us show off our rings.
Going forward, this ring will serve as my own personal reminder of the network I’ve built. I will wear the same ring as my siblings, the same ring as my friends and the same ring as Aggies around the world. While they all showcase the famous A&M seal on the top, there’s a reason every ring has a name inscribed on the interior. Tradition is incredibly important, but it is every student, past, present and future, that makes me proud to wear the Aggie gold.
Camryn Lang is an English senior and managing editor for The Battalion.