Caitlin "Cait" Shields '11 February 12, 2018 4:49 PM updated: February 14, 2018 4:06 PM
After five full weeks, more than 6,500 Aggies and one ice day, The Association of Former Students’ Ring Program is wrapping up its spring Aggie Ring order today, the largest yet.
“As excited as the students are about earning their Aggie Ring, we’re just as excited about taking their orders and seeing their emotions,” said Marty Holmes ’87, vice president for marketing and programs. “There’s such a continuous line of students and parents for those five or six weeks during Ring order, it’s a mountain of a task to really have little to no break all day long, taking care of excited Aggies. It’s their excitement that helps keep you going.”
To serve the record number of excited students ordering their Rings, the Aggie Ring Program supplemented its regular staff with a small army of student workers, volunteers from other departments at The Association and members of the Aggie Network Student Ambassadors, the student organization that supports The Association.
“Our staff’s enthusiasm has carried on for all five weeks; they are excited for each student that comes to their desk,” said Katherine Scarmardo ’09, Aggie Ring Program senior associate, despite orders being briefly suspended when the campus closed due to wintry weather. “(The students) are so excited so we want to be as excited for them. It’s become an event in itself; they bring friends and family. Our staff has been awesome and supportive.”
While ordering their Rings, several hundred students also decided to give back to their school by joining the Century Club, Ring Program Manager Julie Scamardo said.
“We were shooting for 500 Century Club donors and we have exceeded it,” she said.
Through the process of educating students about The Association’s broad impact on campus, Katherine said the staff was excited to share how the Aggie Network will support these Aggies once they graduate and become former students
“We were excited to help inform what the Aggie Network does for current and former students,” she said. “When we talk about Century Club we talk about what we do for them as current students but also gear them up for what we do for them as former students, with Clubs and Muster (as an example).”
These new donors are the most recent that are helping The Association move toward its goal of increasing its donor count to 100,000 by 2020, in order to support Texas A&M even more.
“The Association of Former Students actively promotes a culture of philanthropy of the Aggie Network,” Director of Fundraising Michael J. Hardy ’13 said. “It is great to see so many current students stepping up to begin their philanthropy back to Texas A&M even while still on campus.”
All of the Ring office's effort is aimed at delivering a memorable experience for students to take with them for the rest of their lives.
“I was just excited during that whole time to finally put that order in,” said Christian Doby ’18, a genetics major who is graduating in May. “(Having an Aggie Ring) is really a testament to the challenges I’ve overcome during my time at A&M. I see it as a testament to my personal growth. It’s nice to have something tangible that I can take with me that’s really a culmination of who I’ve become through my experiences at A&M.”
The first-generation Aggie decided to join the Century Club by giving back when he ordered his Aggie Ring on Monday. He said he realized he wanted to support the university with a gift when he received a gift from a former student himself.
A member of the renowned Singing Cadets, he was awarded the Diana and Michael H. Connor ’85 Singing Cadet Aggie Ring Scholarship, which was among the endowed scholarships whose founders were honored last weekend during a luncheon at the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center.
“It was just hearing the stories of how much of an impact these donations have had on students attending here,” Doby said on why he wanted to give back. “It’s never really something I thought about outside of my own sphere, outside myself. But seeing all these donors stand up and all these people who have long since graduated A&M still continue to do their part now to help the next generation along in their education, to meet their goals and to meet their dreams, it’s something I felt strong about just sitting in that room.
“I know I want to be a part of that process of giving back. A&M has given me much to take away, to continue on in life with, values that are irreplaceable and invaluable and I want to give back and be on the other side of that.”
The staff is now gearing up for the largest Ring Day yet, set for April 13-14, coinciding with Family Weekend. For information, visit here.
Through generous gifts to The Association, we are able to be HERE for Aggies during their days as students and former students, THERE for Aggies as they make their way around the world and EVERYWHERE that the Aggie Network needs us to be. Visit tx.ag/give to make a gift.