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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A brief history of Aggie Ring Day

Photo by Photo by: Alexis Will

Aggie Ring Day as current students know it actually only began in 2000. Before that, while important, the day Aggies received their ring was not as much of a production.

Sixteen years ago, Ring Day as students know it today didn’t exist. Friends and family didn’t accompany students to pick up their rings, and what many now recognize as one of the biggest achievements of an Aggie’s career went uncelebrated.
Kathryn Greenwade, Vice President of the Association of Former Students and Class of 1988, recalled that before April of 2000, the milestone of receiving an Aggie Ring was hardly recognized.
“There would be a day set aside where people received their rings, but it was just an all-day, ‘Come and pick up your ring when it’s convenient for you,’” Greenwade said. “There weren’t activities, there wasn’t a dedicated effort on celebrating that milestone. The Aggie Ring was always an important milestone, but we didn’t always celebrate the milestone like we needed to.”
In 2000, Greenwade — alongside a team of her contemporaries set on enhancing the Association of Former Student’s image — saw an opportunity to cement a new tradition that congratulated students on their perseverance and raised awareness of the Association. The first Aggie Ring Day was soon to follow.
Greenwade said the first official Ring Day was full of fanfare and various activities that were eventually phased out.
“We had dunking booths, carnival games, because we wanted to create this, ‘Come and do things’ atmosphere,” Greenwade said. “We found over time that we didn’t need those because getting the ring itself became the event.”
Now that the Association has garnered the awareness Ring Day originally sought to bring, Greenwade said the challenge is planning for more and more recipients each year.
“If it was just 5,000 students coming in to get their ring, it wouldn’t be a challenge,” Greenwade said. “But you have 5,000 students plus families and friends too, so you’ll have each student — I think we looked, on average they’re bringing 10-plus people with them. I think we estimated for our September Ring Day we had close to 20,000 people come through the building throughout the day.”
Despite its size, Greenwade said Aggie Ring Day still retains its intimacy.
“I tell people who come to volunteer to hand out rings that, ‘You’re going to see four hours of smiling,’” Greenwade said. “I remember one — and this is timely given that this week is the anniversary of the Bonfire Collapse — it was in the early 2000s and a family came through, a young man got his ring, and his mother just burst into tears. As I talked to them, I found out that he was one of the students who had been injured at Bonfire, and his mother said, ‘We didn’t know if we’d ever see this day.’”
Patrick Williams, senior director of development for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was one of the members on the team responsible for establishing Ring Day. Williams said before Ring Day became official, the act of receiving an Aggie Ring felt very stiff.
“One of the things that we had talked about in this marketing team that was internal to the Association of Former Students was that our most powerful symbol is the Aggie Ring,” Williams said. “And our students simply — the process of getting an Aggie Ring was simply a financial transaction.”
The first Aggie to ever receive his ring on the first official Ring Day was Travis Braggs, Class of 2000 and current assistant attorney general for the Texas Attorney General’s office.
“Before my ring pull day, the common practice was, ‘When the Association opens up, that’s when the rings are available,’” Braggs said. “So of course, the hardcore Aggies were camping out the night before because they wanted their ring first in the morning. That’s just the way it was, and it was a rite of passage.”
Braggs, eager to get his ring and excited about the prospect of camping out, grabbed his chair and started sitting.
“I got there at 10 p.m. the night before,” Braggs said. “I came with my little chair ready to just sit there. The Association — I will say this — was really awesome the next morning when they got there. You could tell it was this mix of, ‘We’re shocked, but we’re not really surprised.’”
Braggs said since his Ring Day in 2000, his Aggie Ring has served as a connection with Aggies around the world.

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