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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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For ring handout volunteers joy is part of the job

Volunteers+join+students+and+family+members+during+both+the+fall+and+spring+to+celebrate+Ring+Day.
Photo by Photo by: Alexis Will

Volunteers join students and family members during both the fall and spring to celebrate Ring Day.

Tears of joy, overwhelming satisfaction and a flood of memories — these feelings are not just experienced by students on Ring Day, but by the men and women who present the ring to students and their families. 
Each Ring Day, thousands of students are handed their ring by a group of volunteers who have served Texas A&M from all points of the university. The faculty, staff and students — both current and former — who serve in this role play a small part in the massive tradition that Ring Day has become. Each volunteer, however, makes it their goal to ensure every student and who receives a piece of Aggie gold  this Friday and Saturday has a memory that lasts as long as their ring. 
Kathryn Greenwade, vice president of the Association of Former Students, said Ring Day’s growth prompted the Association to invite university staff and faculty members to participate in the day and help out with the logistics of passing out the rings.
“We wanted individuals who are enthusiastic about the Ring Day and had a connection to A&M and who understood the significance of their ring,” Greenwade said. “Over time, that’s grown to include former students who come back to participate, Aggie parents, the University President and his wife have participated, chief of the university police department is a regular volunteer and athletic coaches.”
Volunteers may be anyone who has a connection with Texas A&M and each individual signs up to work three-hour shifts throughout the day and match the correct student with the correct ring. Greenwade said their main role is to celebrate with the student and their family and friends and make them feel special.
Ann Gundy, a former professor in the college of education and Class of 1994, said one of her favorite parts about Ring Day is watching the students and families congregate, some from traveling across the world, to celebrate Ring Day.
“[Families] have traveled from Mexico, Middle East and all over the world to celebrate with their student whenever they get their ring, so it’s a big deal,” Gundy said. “I have seen several multi-generations of Aggies, grandfathers, grandmothers, mothers and fathers whenever they get their Aggie ring and it’s fun to watch and be able to share that with them.”
Martha Dannenbaum, Director of Student Health Services and Class of 1983, said her entire family consists of Aggies. She said volunteering at ring day reminds her what it means to be an Aggie and how big of an accomplishment the ring signifies.
“I wear my Aggie ring every day and don’t even think about it,” Dannenbaum said. “To be a part of that and to share in that joy, it just reminds how special this institution is and that we are all connected with a very simple symbol in many ways and it’s just a reminder it’s a powerful symbol.”
Becky Jobling, staff member in the College of Liberal Arts and Class of 1986, said her A&M connection goes far back, and that she currently has a daughter at A&M. Jobling said she admires how special an event Ring Day has become and said her favorite part is watching the pure joy students show on Ring Day.
“Seeing the students’ faces as well as the parents’ faces when they first see that shiny ring — most folks handing out rings will have tears in their eyes and it’s a really moving experience,” Jobling said.
Jim Russ, Class of 1986, has a daughter who attended A&M in the Class of 2015 and now works at the Association of Former Students. Russ said the Aggie ring is a symbol of the common bond that all Aggies will share and watching a student’s and a family’s Ring Day is a humbling experience. 
“The excitement they have building up to the time when they order and then when they receive is truly magical because seeing the expressions on their face, to see how much joy and excitement it brings, how much honor — you can see it in their face, body actions when they receive that ring,” Russ said. 
Dannenbaum said she got involved with Ring Day when her children, Class of 2007 and 2009, attended A&M. Dannenbaum said it is special to see families watch their first-generation college student receive their ring.
“To see the parent, especially those who are not English speaking parents who are observing this, and to see the emotion in their face and the tears and the clear pride and joy as they watch,” Dannenbaum said. “Particularly, the first-generation student who’s made this accomplishment. That to me has been one of the most powerful things to see.”
Russ said Ring Day is a moving time for everyone — families, friends and volunteers.
“We find ourselves on the other side of the table getting wrapped up in the emotions and my wife cries all the time, I’ll well up with a tear time to time and it’s truly an experience that is second to none,” Russ said.

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