Friday, September 20, 2013

Aggie Ring Day

Today is Ring Day in Aggieland.  It’s a huge day for the kids who have earned 90 credit hours.  The Aggie Ring is recognized worldwide, and it’s a symbol of tradition, integrity, hard work, and honor.  I could write a short book about all the symbolism of the Aggie Ring!  My Aggie Ring Day was 7 years ago this month, and the memories of that day are so incredibly special.

For me, my ring is more than just showing the world that I’m an Aggie.  That part is fun, and I’ve found Aggies in some incredibly faraway places thanks to my ring. However, the ring is more than just recognition. I was so incredibly ill with endometriosis for over half of my college career.  My doctor suggested taking time off from classes a few different times to focus on healing as stress can increase the symptoms of endometriosis.  I refused.  And, because I refused, I earned my ring just about as quickly as any Aggie can.  

Yet, my ring doesn’t just belong to me.  See sometimes, it takes an entire family to earn one student an Aggie Ring.  

My mom earned my Aggie Ring because she sacrificed so much time to spend half of each week when I was unable to drive and hardly able to walk to make sure I got to class and help me around the house so I wasn’t a burden to my amazing roommates.  Mom read my textbooks to me and typed papers I dictated when my pain levels were too high to focus on the words in front of me.  Let’s also not forget the countless hours she spent praying for me and asking friends the world over to pray for me.  On Ring Day, when moms traditionally place the Aggie Ring on their student's finger, I highly doubt there has ever been a more proud mama! (Yes, Bailey got to attend Ring Day too!)

My dad earned my Aggie Ring for giving up his wife for days at a time and increasing the fuel budget so Mom could come back and forth from Houston. Dad didn’t complain when he did his own laundry, housekeeping, and cooking.  Oh, and he prayed.  Boy, howdy, did he pray.

My brother earned my Aggie Ring for giving up his mom for much of his last semester of high school.  He didn’t fuss, and was tender-hearted about the whole thing.  It wasn’t fair to him.  Granted, David did get his ring two years after I did-Whoop!  

My grandparents earned my Aggie Ring by calling constantly, coming from Kentucky to visit, sending me mad money for days I could get out, mailing me funny cards, and always being my prayer warriors.  

Sweet Bailey earned my Aggie Ring by forcing me out of bed each morning if for no other reason than he had to be let out back to potty!  Sweet, precious pup that he is was such a blessing on tough hard days.  He was my reason to go to Research Park and breath fresh air when all I wanted to do was be still.  

My phenomenal professors earned my Aggie Ring when they would send me emails to check in on me, allow me to take tests on good days, worked around several surgery schedules, and encouraged me to keep on keeping on.  

My friends in Phi Lamb and a few close others earned my Aggie Ring by sticking with me even when I couldn’t be very social.  A few dear friends would bring over movies, bring carry out, or just come sit on my bed and talk.  


My Aggie Ring is a symbol of God’s faithfulness in hard times.  He gave me the strength to get to class, to pass assignments, to get to church, and He allowed me peace when all I had some days was His presence.  When I look at my Aggie Ring each day, I see the dream of a little girl to be a teacher.  I am filled with gratitude for all of those who worked so hard so that the dream is now my reality.  After a long road of various treatments, the endometriosis has been silent for nearly 6 years.  

I just began my 7th year teaching, and this year is already showing signs of being the most promising yet.  In these 6 completed years of teaching, students have chosen to raise money by doing extra chores around their homes for Haiti to send to the Red Cross after the earthquake, they have raised nearly $14,000 to build a well in Nepal for charity: water, they have sent me to Zambia twice with pounds and pounds of school supplies for my ‘other’ students in Zambia, and they have challenged me to never stop challenging them as we learn about how to make the world a better place.  We’ve stared the evils of human trafficking and slave made products in the face and said, “no more!”  In my classroom, students have made goals to become teachers in Africa, political leaders, doctors, and authors and have learned that saying “Whoop!” is way more exciting than saying “hook ‘em”.  On each of these roads, my Aggie Ring has been an ever constant reminder of what it has taken to make this journey with now over 1,000 gangly 6th graders.  I wouldn’t trade a moment of the physical pain that it took to get here.  It’s made me empathize with struggling students and turned me into an example of what it means to have a goal and not quit.  Aggieland reinforced the values of dream-chasers as I learned to honor, respect, and hold dear traditions that have spanned generations. 

Aggies who get your rings today, congratulations!  Wear it with pride, cherish these memories, and change the world.  Gig ‘em.


Kerrie Williams said...

this is such a sweet story! Nearly brought tears to my eyes! I, too, struggle with pain from endometiosis but it doesn't sounds nearly as bad as your pain. Mine increases every month, occurs twice a month, and lasts about a week at a time. So basically every other week. It's so frustrating.

Lacey McGowan said...

I ran across your blog because I was looking for who places the ring on the recipients finger. I am about to graduate from an A&M sister school, Tarleton State University, and had never heard who did that honor. What I found here was such a beautiful story - thank you for sharing!!

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