On Friday, I receive my Aggie Ring after a little more than a year in College Station.
After running myself through the ringer by taking 59 credit hours in seven months for this shiny piece of gold, I learned my lesson. It’s not a cliché that hard work pays off or grinding and studying until my eyes bleed. It’s not even about how honored I am to receive a ring steeped in more than 100 years of tradition, with enough symbolism and tradition to make it worth the pretty penny it costs.
I learned that the only person I needed to prove anything to was myself.
When I came to College Station, ready to move on from a university I grew out of, I felt inadequate. I did everything I could to be a part of the maroon bubble. I collected Aggie gear in bulk, went to every sports game, learned all of the yells and said, “Howdy” to every person I met. I even have the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band’s first and only record on vinyl. I felt like I needed to force myself into the culture. So, obviously the biggest step was getting my Aggie Ring.
With hope in my heart for that ring and the goal of graduating in four years, I took four Spanish courses in four months. I probably didn’t learn a lick of Spanish and I was the most stressed I’d been my entire college career, all to impress a community of people I didn’t know - for the most part.
When I finally reached enough credits to order the ring, I was more relieved than proud. I didn’t feel cheery about the late nights finishing 20 Spanish assignments or the times I almost threw my laptop across the room. That moment felt less like a gift and more like weight had been lifted.
In that moment I realized that this past year was worth more than most of my college career. Not because of absurd amount of credits earned, but because of the moments between the classes and the homework.
This Friday, I’m not paying attention to the hours I wasted working for this piece of Aggie Gold, but to the experiences that were behind it; the adrenaline I felt when I opened my admission letter; the protests and social events hosted by Aggies trying to make this university better that I covered for The Batt; the old friends who held on when I moved miles away; the times when my parents had to lift me up when I was in a rut emotionally and financially; the abundance of late nights in the newsroom working alongside some of the best, award-winning collegiate journalists and friends to the sound of broadcast news and wisecracking; the even later nights on Northgate relaxing after a week of studying for the next.
This ring is for my friends and family that helped me live through these last 15 months in College Station. It’s a sign that I’ve matured and grown as a man. It’s a sign that I stuck it out and became the third member of my family to graduate college. It’s a sign that there’s much, much more to come after I walk across the stage in Reed Arena with that piece of paper in my hand and this ring on my finger.
Chevall Pryce is a journalism senior and news editor for The Battalion.