Celebrated widely and variably, a class ring is more than a piece of jewelry on a finger — it symbolizes determination, encases memories and creates conversation.
After completing 90 hours of undergraduate coursework, Aggies have the option to buy their Aggie Ring. Once the ring is purchased, a time is chosen to have their ring presented to them on Aggie Ring Day at the Clayton J. Williams Jr. Alumni Center.
According to Kathryn Greenwade, vice president of The Association of Former Students and Class of 1988, about 94 percent of undergraduates at Texas A&M will order a ring to commemorate their time at the university. On Ring Day, 100-175 students will come into the building at their selected arrival time, where their ring will be presented to them.
“It’s really elevated beyond what we anticipated,” Greenwade said. “We never anticipated that the girls would get dressed up for Ring Day. We never anticipated everybody bringing their families. I think it’s a wonderful addition because Ring Day turns into a multigenerational reunion of the Aggie Network. We provide a good platform and students took it and made it into something that’s just very special.”
Russell Wagner, executive director of alumni relations for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, said around 30 percent of the A&M-Corpus Christi student body purchases a ring when they have earned 75 undergraduate hours or 25 graduate hours.
“I think the great thing about the Islander Ring is that it symbolizes something different for everyone,” Wagner said. “Of course it symbolizes achievement in education, but it means a little something different to everyone. I have a ring, and I’ve worn it every day for the past 10 years. For me, it’s a constant reminder of every memory I ever forged on this campus. It reminds me of the hard work I put in to get me where I am today. It also ties me to every alumnus that ever walked foot on our campus.”
Wagner said there are two windows for Islanders to order rings, both in the fall and spring semesters. Due to high attendance, the ring ceremony is broken into two events. At the ceremony, the university president discusses the history of the ring, the alumni president speaks on the connection the ring has to the campus and the event concludes with the presentations of the rings.
“Once the ceremony ends, we invite our ring recipients to the Islander Ring Wish,” Wagner said. “This tradition started in 2015. Each ring recipient is given a sand dollar at their ring ceremony. Like a penny in a wishing well, this token is then tossed into the fountain at Woo Sung Lee Plaza. It’s an event that our students really look forward to and has really grown the tradition of our ring program.”
Mark Missildine, Texas A&M University-Texarkana (TAMUT) alumni relations coordinator, said TAMUT is a young campus with developing traditions. Being a small campus with around 2,200 students, 60 -80 rings per year are purchased. At TAMUT, students can order a class ring after completing 90 hours.
“We host a spring and fall Grad Fair,” Missildine said. “During the Grad Fair, rings can be purchased. We have a spring and fall TAMUT ring ceremony. During the ceremony, the rings are presented to the students by the university president.”
Missildine said at TAMUT, the ring ceremony is celebrated on campus the Thursday prior to graduation, where it is common for friends and family to attend.
“The TAMUT ring serves as an enduring symbol of the values and traditions of TAMUT coupled with each students unique educational experience,” Missildine said. “The TAMUT ring represents a lifelong link with fellow classmates and alumni.”