Islander Alumni Association Awards Legacy Rings to Six Recipients

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – An Islander ring symbolizes fortitude and overcoming challenges, focus on academic achievement, and drive for a successful future. The ring tells a different story for each scholar. For some, it’s trials they have conquered, like being the first in their family to graduate from college or overcoming a health crisis. For others, it’s a reminder of friendships and a cherished campus tradition.

“The Islander ring has proudly remained unchanged since 1999,” said Russell Wagner, Executive Director of the National Islander Alumni Association. “It connects all Islanders who have ever placed the ring on their finger and stepped foot on this campus.”

Each year, the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi National Islander Alumni Association honors students who make profound contributions to the University with complimentary Legacy Rings. From tour guides and student leaders, to athletes and academic achievers, students who earn these rings have an unwavering passion for the campus community. This year, six students were honored.

“I was incredibly touched to receive this ring from the Island University,” said Pilar Harkless, biomedical sciences major. “The ring is important to me because it symbolizes my love of this University. It represents all the hard work I invested during my time here.”

When Harkless first came to A&M-Corpus Christi, she had just completed a year of cancer treatment that stole her health, home, job, and ability to walk. She battled cancer from the bed of a homeless shelter and fought bravely to learn to walk again. As a student, Harkless utilized all the resources available to her including Islander staff, advisors, and faculty to turn her dreams into reality. Harkless is also an avid volunteer who enjoys teaching others to read at the Literacy Council, judging science fairs, and making Valentine’s Day cards for senior citizens.

 Joshua Warner and Jasmine Lopez, who both committed hours upon hours of service to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, were also awarded rings. Warner, who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration, served as president of the Student Economics Association for two semesters and is described by his professors as hard-working, respectful, honest, and personable. Warner also served his country as a member of the U.S. military.

“A college ring tells your story before you even begin speaking,” said Warner. “One of the first questions I was asked at my new job after graduating was ‘what school did you attend?’ In that moment, I was honored to show my Islander pride thanks to the Legacy Ring.”

Lopez, an environmental science major, is a leader, mentor, and a shining example of an A&M-Corpus Christi Islander. She served the University as an Island Ambassador in the Office of Recruitment and Admissions for nearly four years, giving weekly campus tours, hosting Island Day campus preview events, and ushering at commencement ceremonies. Lopez was recently named Orientation Leader of the Year, works as a Supplemental Instructor for science courses, and mentors with Programs for Academic Student Support (PASS).

Sofia Rodriguez, a Spanish education major, left her mark on campus through her involvement with numerous organizations and committees including the Islander Cultural Alliance, Campus Activities Board, PAC Advisory Committee, Artistic Advisory Council, and Spanish Club. She was the keynote speaker at the 2018 Hispanic Heritage Month Kickoff and hosted “Painting with Sofia” events for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Awareness Months.

“Learning that I would receive a Legacy Ring was such an important moment in my life that I will never forget,” said Rodriguez. “I remember hugging my advisor, Susan LaTorre, and us both sobbing. Being recognized for everything I’ve done moved me to my core.”

Another Legacy Ring recipient, Matt Dawod, a pre-professional biomedical sciences major, excelled in the classroom while also being highly involved with several organizations around campus, including the Student Alumni Association, the Pre-Dental Society, and Alpha Epsilon Delta. Both of Dawod’s parents are Islander alumni, and Dawod’s brother, David, was also awarded a Legacy Ring five years ago.

Students can also earn a ring for their achievements in athletics. Kareem South, biomedical sciences major and Islanders Men’s Basketball team captain, made the Academic Honor Roll six times in the past two seasons, and in April 2018 was selected for the Southland Conference All-Academic First Team. Following graduation, South plans to attend physical therapy school and open his own clinic.

“The Islander Ring is special because it reminds you of all the people that came before you and brings you into the tradition of Islander pride and honor,” said South. “I was hugely surprised when I learned I would be receiving a Legacy Ring. To me, it symbolizes all the positive experiences and lifelong bonds I’ve made here at the Island University.”

Each of these six exemplary Islanders were chosen through a nomination process and were ultimately awarded Legacy Rings based on a history of leadership, commitment, and service.

“The ring recipients are students who love being Islanders and make an unbelievable impact, expecting very little in return. They are hard workers who excel in the classroom, are first to arrive and the last ones to leave,” said Wagner. “The Legacy Ring is a way for the Alumni Association to say ‘thank you’ for the selfless work students contribute to making the Island University an amazing place.”

Additional Information 

Click here to see a full album of photos from the Spring 2019 Islander Ring Ceremony, held April 6 in the Performing Arts Center.