New Ring Ceremony Draws Alumni
Alumni Dan Whitsell and Melisa Mrazik show off their new rings at the twice yearly ceremony.
Standing in line with about 100 juniors and seniors, Dan Whitsell, class of 1985, excitedly waited for the UT Dallas ring ceremony to begin. A few minutes later, in front of hundreds who gathered to watch the rite of passage, Whitsell slipped his UT Dallas ring on his finger and closed a chapter that began almost 20 years ago.
Whitsell had purchased a ring in 1985 to celebrate his bachelor's degree. When he later completed a master's degree, he packed up the ring and sent it to the manufacturer to be updated with the new degree. But he never saw the ring again.
"With two young children, the $600 insurance payment was quickly consumed by living expenses, which took a front seat over replacing my class ring," Whitsell explained.
The UT Dallas Ring Ceremony began in 2001. Over the years, participants have begun ceremoniously dunking their rings in reflection pools on campus, including the pool under the trellis.
Though years have passed since their graduations, Whitsell and other alumni are purchasing UT Dallas rings and participating in ring ceremonies that didn't exist when they were students. Held on the eve of commencement, the tradition’s growing popularity is marked by a ceremonial dunking of the ring.
"Until my wife and I attended our daughter's ring ceremony at Texas A&M, we had no idea how powerful this ceremony could be in a student’s life," Whitsell said. "UT Dallas has got it right by tying the UTD ring, its ring ceremony and alumni to school pride."
For alumna Melisa Mrazik, that pride drew her back to her alma mater almost 20 years after graduating with a bachelor's degree in computer science. Along with Whitsell, she claimed her new ring at the ceremony held this summer.
"The education I received 20 years ago in computer science continues to benefit me in my career goals, but the ring is a tangible daily reminder of all that UTD has made possible for me," said Mrazik.
UT Dallas' standardized ring design, adopted by the former Alumni Association in 2001, features symbols of the University. The letters "UTD" on the ring top identify the wearer as a graduate. One side emphasizes the University's Texas heritage, displaying the state flag matched with the Lone Star, crossed by the UT Dallas Comet. The degree received is also designated. The other side includes the seal of The University of Texas System with the year of UT Dallas' founding in 1969, as well as the year that the wearer graduated.
Visit this website for more information about the UT Dallas ring.