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

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

The Battalion

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Scholarships serve those who served

Jena Floyd

Active duty Officer Rebecca Lesemann will receive her ring on Friday April 17, 2015.

Class Councils is $2,500 away from establishing an endowed Aggie Ring scholarship specifically tailored for student veterans.

The Aggie Rings for Veterans Fund, established in 2010, was inspired by Pristine Remolona, Class of 2012. Remolona has military history in her family. Her grandfather served during WWII and her brother died while serving in the U.S. Air Force.

“While my family has meant so much to me, being a part of the Aggie family is something unlike any other alumni network in the nation and the tradition of the Aggie Ring is one that connects Aggies worldwide,” Remolona said. “Working to start the Aggie Rings for Veterans Fund was a great opportunity to give back and show my support for our U.S. military veterans and for my fellow Aggies.”

After Remolona graduated, Class Councils continued to work toward the $25,000 goal. Danielle Snow, communication sophomore and co-director of the 11-11 Day Committee, said 11-11 Day manages most of the funding efforts through T-shirt sales and a silent auction during Parents’ Weekend. While the goal is to collect the remaining $2,500 by May, Snow said the funds may not get raised until December.

Kathryn Greenwade, vice president of the Association of Former Students, said the $25,000 minimum endowment can pay enough dividends in interest yearly for one male ring or two female rings.

Greenwade said veterans often do not put funding an Aggie Ring as a high priority, as they typically use veteran’s benefits.

“While those veteran’s benefits are paying tuition, they’re paying housing somewhat, they’re paying books, an Aggie Ring is not one of those things that’s in there,” Greenwade said. “Many of these veterans have families, and so an Aggie Ring, as much as they want it, is a luxury. It’s not a necessity.”

While the Class Councils scholarship is still in the works, other scholarships help donors pay for Aggie Rings for student veterans.

Col. Jerry Smith, director of the Veterans Resource and Support Center, said the office started working with veteran scholarships in 2013. Through his office, 26 veterans have since received an Aggie Ring.

Smith said veterans are typically referred to his office by an outside source. He then acts as a go-between for the veterans and the Association, from which some of the scholarships come. Smith said veterans themselves are hesitant to come forward to ask for help, which he called “warrior mentality.”

Rebecca Lesemann, homeland security graduate student and active-duty Army officer, said she was one of those veterans. Lesemann, who receives her ring Friday thanks to funds from a larger donation to the veteran support center, said she did not want to take away from other people who she thought might be more deserving. In the end, Smith convinced her, saying veterans deserve the money, too.

“I’ve actually told other people the same thing because everyone says, ‘There’s someone more deserving; it’s not me,’” Lesemann said. “I don’t want to use the money that someone else could use, and because he did that for me, then I’ve actually told a few other veterans to go fill out the paperwork.”

Lesemann found out about her scholarship on Christmas Day, and even though she did not come from an A&M family, she has wanted her ring since she learned about the tradition.

“It actually is very humbling for me because as a veteran I personally don’t feel like I’m this special person that needs to receive a ring, so the fact that someone wants to donate a ring because I’m a veteran is very humbling and it’s an honor,” Lesemann said.

Seven veterans will receive rings Friday, two of which Greenwade said are from pass-through programs, or direct donations specifically for veterans. As Class Councils works to complete the Aggie Ring Fund for Veterans, she said it has been worth the time to raise the money.

“Normally we ask that that scholarship be paid in about three years,” Greenwade said. “In the case of Class Councils, because this is not just one individual making a gift, we’ll stretch that timeline out for as long as it takes because we think that that effort of students funding this is very meaningful.”

Lesemann said an endowed scholarship for veterans could increase the number of veterans willing to ask for help funding an Aggie Ring. Smith said veterans who receive their ring often turn around and donate money of their own for a future veteran.
“It is very telling of our Aggie core values,” Smith said. “Selfless service, excellence, I think the student veterans that receive an Aggie Ring from fellow students greatly appreciate the appreciation for what they’ve gone and done before they came for school.”

Even after Ring Day, Smith said the impact of receiving an Aggie Ring continues.
“I never want a student veteran to go to graduation, and that Association of Former Student representative that’s at graduation says, ‘Okay, everybody, stand up and turn your Aggie Ring around,’” Smith said. “I don’t want a veteran standing there looking at a bare knuckle.”

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