Sam Houston rings in a new class

The lawn outside Austin Hall was filled with people last Thursday night as 476 Sam Houston State University juniors and seniors waited to cross the stage and receive their class rings.

Now in its fourth year, the Official Ring Ceremony is held each spring to honor juniors and seniors who are nearing their graduation with the official ring for SHSU. The event was held outside of Austin Hall because it was one of the first buildings on campus and the university was built around it, Dr. James Gaertner said in his opening speech.

“The university started the ceremony to have conformity and to signify the event of getting the ring,” said Special Events Coordinator for Alumni Relations Jessica Cates.

Designed in 2003 by a committee of faculty, alumni and students, the gold ring features the SHSU logo on the top with the likeness of Sam Houston on one side and an etching of Austin Hall on the other. Students were able to choose between gold and white gold and also had the option to add diamonds to the ring. Yet since the ring is the official ring of the university, the basic design remains the same for everyone.

“The ring is the official ring of the university, so students weren’t able to customize the basic design,” Cates said. “There is only one official ring for the university so that everyone has the same one.”

To begin the ceremony, University President Dr. James Gaertner spoke about the significance and symbolism the ring holds for the students now and in their lives after college.

“Obviously, the ring is circular. It has no beginning and no end, representing an everlasting nature of strength and commitment,” Gaertner said. “And since it is a college ring, it is something uniquely American.”

This year, 680 rings were sold and over half of those students chose to take part in the ceremony to receive theirs.

“Its taken me five years of hard work to get here,” senior Brad Sheffield said. “Getting my ring is an extra add on to the diploma.”

Cates said this particular type of ceremony is especially difficult to run because, unlike graduation where identical diplomas are handed out, each student must be given the exact ring they ordered.

“This year was excellent. We had a great turnout and things went very smoothly,” Cates said. “We basically took things that didn’t work in the past and improved them.”

After the ceremony, a reception and group picture of all the ring-recipients was taken to commemorate the occasion.

“This ring represents a milestone in your academic career. It is a ring of honor; a bond with this university,” Gaertner said. “It is a symbol of preparation for a rewarding life.”

Leave a Reply