Upcoming Wayland graduates help start new tradition at ring ceremony

Release Date: May 5, 2009    

PLAINVIEW – In a new tradition, seniors at Wayland Baptist University participated in the first ring ceremony at the university on Monday night, officially receiving their mementos of college years and being reminded of the meaning of such a symbol.

Hosted by the Association of Former Students and the Office of Alumni Services, the ceremony included special music by Dr. Gary Belshaw, assistant professor of piano pedagogy, and Eddie Turner, a 1972 graduate who is manager of the University Store, along with an opening prayer by Dr. Bobby Hall, executive vice president and provost, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wayland.

Danny Andrews, director of alumni development, provided background on the special centennial senior ring designed by a committee and produced by Josten’s. The ring features the school seal on the top, the student’s class year and school of study on one side, along with the globe representing Wayland’s worldwide reach and the flame symbol that is part of the university logo. The other side includes the centennial logo – bearing a script 100, the flame and the theme “Dreams to Reality” and the slogan “Since 1908” referring to Wayland’s charter year. Only graduates from 2008-09, or alumni who ordered one of the commemorative rings during this year, will be able to own one, as the ring will change slightly in coming years in light of the centennial celebration ending.

Dr. Gary Abercrombie, a 1973 graduate and local dentist, challenged the new graduates to remain loyal to their school and used his own ring as a reminder.

“You have been given a treasure in your ring. That ring is a testimony to your achievement while at Wayland,” he said. “When I look on my treasure, I’m reminded of those same memories. You have had opportunities for great growth while at Wayland, and my prayer is that when you wear your ring and look at it, you will be reminded that Wayland is now and forever intertwined with your life.”

Ashley Beggs, a senior from Muleshoe and student body president for 2008-09, spoke to her classmates as well, admitting that at first, she wasn’t interested in a ring due to the expense. But her grandparents purchased one for her and sister Kelsey, also graduating on Saturday, as a keepsake. When deciding what to have engraved inside the rings, the girls chose a familiar phrase from their upbringing – “Remember Who You Are and Where You Came From” – but shortened it with the initials RWYA&WYCF.

“I’ve decided that the ring is not the end of Wayland or my education. This represents friendships and memories of my time here,” she said. “It’s the end of your journey at Wayland but not the end of your heart here.”

In congratulating seniors, President Dr. Paul Armes nodded to the centennial theme in his wishes for a bright future for the new graduates.

“Hopefully your journey at Wayland has been one of discovery. It’s been our hope that your journey has helped you find what God has for your life,” he said. “My prayer is that you will embrace God’s dream for you.”

Armes then presented the rings officially to participating seniors, introduced by Jonathan Petty, 1995 graduate and assistant director of communications. A circle was then formed around the room, started by 1945 graduate Melba Jo Willis, longtime former secretary in the Office of Public Relations, with graduates and alumni present alternating with joined hands.

“Just as a ring symbolizes an unbroken circle, we want our alumni to join the seniors in forming a symbolic unbroken circle representing more than 38,000 Wayland alumni around the world,” Andrews said.  

The group then sang the school Alma Mater after the benediction led by Rose Ann Chavez, a 2006 graduate and first-grade teacher at Hillcrest Elementary who serves on the alumni board.

Approximately 20 members of the May 2009 graduating class participated in the ceremony, with another few alums from previous years choosing to order a commemorative ring and participate as well.