Students Receive Islander Ring During Social Distanced CelebrationStudents Receive Islander Ring During Social Distanced Celebration

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Adapting a long-held Islander tradition to honor students’ hard work and perseverance, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Islander Alumni Association held its inaugural Islander Ring Celebration Nov. 7, allowing students a rare opportunity to celebrate alongside friends and family amid the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Bringing students one step closer to graduation, the celebration invited more than 200 students along with a limited number of special guests to celebrate receiving the coveted Islander ring – symbolizing pride, achievement, and university spirit.

“We’ve been working hard to make things as normal as possible, in times when they are anything but,” Russell Wagner, Executive Director of Alumni Relations, said. “These students have been waiting for years to put their ring on their finger. Though we wish our traditional ceremony were still possible, we’re still happy recipients get to take part in a meaningful experience.”

Islander students and loved ones were welcomed to the celebration by Dr. Margaret Lara ’98, ’01, ’12, Islander Alumni Association President.

“Once again, our team was able to ‘turn the tide’ on a time-honored tradition. Although our ring ceremony had to be modified, we were incredibly pleased by how well-received our students, parents, relatives, and close friends felt today,” Lara said. “It brings me just pure joy to witness our students/future alumni so thrilled to be receiving their ring. The ring celebration is one way our students begin preparing themselves toward the ultimate goal and begin working just a little bit harder toward the finish line – graduation!”

Transformed from a “ceremony” to “celebration,” students and loved ones marked the long-awaited milestone while safely social distancing and savoring the special moment in separately scheduled time blocks throughout the day. Per tradition, students received their Islander ring and a special sand dollar to toss into the fountain at Woo Sung Lee Plaza as part of the coveted Islander Ring Wish. Like tossing a penny into a wishing well, students one by one walked up to the fountain and cast their hopes and dreams for the future, while fellow Islanders cheered alongside them.

“This day means everything to me. The pandemic has really taken over so much what we are able to do right now and being able to celebrate this ring today against the odds – it just shows that Islanders are resilient,” Brittany Reese, marketing major, said. “This ring represents a long journey coming to an end – but it won’t really be the end for us, because we’re all Islanders forever.”