Thursday, September 20, 2012

Another Reason Why I Love Being an Aggie

Happy Thursday lovelies! Hard to believe another week has almost passed, and I am ready for the weekend! I want to share an article I found earlier this morning from the Aggie Network (yep, I'm a member and I'm also in the Century Club!). Be prepared to shed a few tears for this young man. The story is here or you can read it below! And in case you don't know, Ring Day is pretty much the biggest day in Aggieland, besides Graduation day.

Rich In Spirit
He Couldn’t Afford His Aggie Ring,
But Aggie Spirit Made Up The Balance

Story by Stephanie Jeter Cannon ’06, photography by Patrick Danielczyk ’03, video by Katy Lee ‘08 

Daniela Ranz ’13 found a parking spot right outside the packed Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center. With around 3,500 Aggies set to get their Aggie Rings on Sept. 14, and thousands more family members and friends on hand to share in the joy, snagging that empty bit of asphalt affirmed what she’d been feeling for months.

Today was their day.

Daniela and her boyfriend of four years, Esteban Del Valle ’13, along with family and friends, worked their way inside the packed building. When her group was called, they all headed into the Ring delivery room. Ring delivery is organized by last name, but Ranz-with-an-R was leading them to the Zs. Crediting her misdirection to excitement, Esteban tried to redirect their path, but Daniela pretended not to hear.

“Hey, don’t you know the alphabet?” teased one of Ranz’s brothers.

Esteban could tell Daniela was nervous. But that wasn’t unexpected, because this was Aggie Ring Day. The Aggie Ring is a tradition dating back nearly 125 years, and the Ring itself is the most visible symbol of the Aggie Network that connects Aggies around the world. The design of every Aggie Ring is the same, and every symbol on it represents the values Aggies embrace: excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service.

The Association of Former Students has the responsibility of protecting the integrity of the Aggie Ring, overseeing eligibility, order and delivery for more than 9,000 students each year. Aggie Ring Day, hosted at the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center, is celebrated three times a year and is one of the most anticipated milestones in an Aggie’s time on campus, a celebration of a significant academic accomplishment.

Earning the right to wear an Aggie Ring requires clearing some of the toughest requirements in the country for a class ring. Daniela had met those requirements, and today she would receive one of the most treasured items any Aggie possesses.

Esteban had met those requirements, too, successfully completing 90 hours toward his degree in industrial engineering. He had been eagerly looking forward to the day he would get his Aggie Ring, and he had the qualifications. He just didn’t have the money.

He’d come to that hard realization months ago. You can’t hope away a bank balance, he said. He was sure he would eventually be able to purchase his own Aggie Ring—someday, at some unknown point in the future. But this was not that day. Today would not be his Aggie Ring Day. Instead, he’d celebrate with Ranz and his other Aggie Classmates, and he’d be happy about it because he knew what a special day it was for them.

He had no idea.

For months, Daniela had been hiding a secret. Unknown to Esteban, she had made special arrangements with the staff of the Aggie Ring Office, and she had reached out to friends and family she thought would want to help. “You understand the tradition of the Aggie Ring,” she wrote to each. “Donate anything. You can be part of this.” Almost immediately, her phone started buzzing. About two dozen people responded. “I’ve had my phone on silent for three months,” she said. 

It was still on silent as they made their way into the delivery room and got into that line. And then it was time.

Daniela’s Ring was presented to her by her mother. Three other friends who were celebrating that day were presented with their Rings. And then Daniela’s stepfather, Jim Wuerth, cleared his throat. 

“One of the many things about tradition here is the Ring,” Wuerth said. “Another thing about the Aggies is helping friends.”

And then Wuerth extended a box toward Esteban. A maroon box, with the Texas A&M University logo on top. The box that an Aggie Ring comes in.

“People have helped you today,” Wuerth concluded.

What came next, Esteban can’t exactly remember. The next memory he has is looking down, through tears, at his very own Aggie Ring. (Watch the video)

The emotions he experienced aren’t easily explained. “I went blank,” he said. Yes, he had earned the privilege to order his Ring, but this—this generosity, kindness and selflessness—he wasn’t sure he had earned that. It was a monumental gift.

“I went to sleep crying because I was happy,” he said. “I woke up and saw it and started crying because I was happy.”

For Esteban, his Aggie Ring has significance far beyond its value as a piece of gold jewelry. 

“No, it has even more meaning that that,” he said. “Every time I look at the Ring, I see the support of my friends and family."

That’s Texas A&M, he said.

"What else can I say? That’s real friends, real tradition.”

 Learn more about the history and the symbolism of the Aggie Ring.

You can help other deserving Aggies get their Aggie Rings. To give funds toward an Aggie Ring Scholarship,click here and indicate in the comments section that the donation is for the “Aggie Ring Scholarship Fund." To create a permanent Aggie Ring Scholarship endowment, click here.

The Association of Former Students, established in 1879, is the official alumni organization of Texas A&M University. The Association connects the nearly 500,000 members of the worldwide Aggie Network with each other and the university, and provides more than $7 million a year in impact to university scholarships, awards, activities and enrichment for students, faculty, staff and former students.

Pretty awesome, huh? Thanks & Gig'em and God Bless!

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