History

Unique Texas College Ring Tradition

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College Graduation is a time to reflect back on your educational journey and the milestones you accomplished over the years. A time to remember time honored traditions that catapult you into an honored group of alumni that carry with them the memories they made from their Alma mater for years to come.

Each college is unique in how they celebrate certain traditions and the University of Houston is no different. One particular tradition that stands out from the rest is the Official Class Ring Ceremony. Not your ordinary run of the mill type, but one with blessings, cougars, and stories to be shared for years to come.

The Tradition

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Photo: Sonia Ramirez

The University of Houston annual ring ceremony began in 2011 in partnership with the Houston Zoo and the University of Houston Alumni Association. Every semester, all official Class Rings are brought to the zoo the evening before the grand ceremony to be blessed by the UH live cougar mascot-Shasta VI. Shasta has long been a staple at the University representing the spirit and Cougar pride around campus. The first Shasta arrived on campus in 1947 states the University website.

Cougar Blessings

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Photo: houstonalumni.com

Shasta VI is the keeper of the rings the night before the ceremony and proudly watches over them in his exhibit at the zoo making sure to bless all the rings sealed and held in a locked cougar red box adorned with his image. Ring recipients are encouraged to visit, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a front row seat to his show as he makes his way around the box and even jumping on top for top rate photo ops of his commanding presence.

Soon after, the rings are then taken out of the box and transported back to UH for the Ring Ceremony where they will be presented to all students and alumni participating in that semester’s ceremony.

The Ceremony

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Photo: Sonia Ramirez

The evening of the ceremony, the following day, is not without its own memories. Photos and videos of the night before are shared with the audience so they can enjoy the blessing of the rings as well. What started out as a small ceremony is growing each year with more students participating in a long-standing tradition they will carry with them for years to come.

As each student steps onto the stage at Cullen Performance Hall with their ring still in the box, they are cheered on by friends and family. Many are the first in their family to graduate, and some are carrying on a family tradition of graduates from the same Alma Mater.

Each ring is custom-made and is designed exclusively for and by UH students and alumni, states the UH Alumni website. “Tradition dictates that current students must wear the ring facing inward, with only alumni wearing the ring facing outward.” Once everyone at the ceremony receives their rings, everyone at once opens their box and places their rings on together.

Texas Traditions

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Photo: pixabay.com

A few other Texas colleges also have unique ways in which they celebrate their Ring Ceremony:

Texas State University – During the ceremony in Strahan Coliseum, family and friends watch as students are given their official Texas State rings. Afterward, students follow the tradition of dipping their rings in the waters of the San Marcos River, which flow in a fountain at the ceremony, states its website.

Texas A&M University – celebrates with a Ring Dance. Traditionally, students wear their ring with the class year facing them to signify the fact that their time at A&M is not yet complete. During Senior Weekend at the annual Ring Dance, the student’s ring is turned around to face the world proudly, just as the Aggie graduate will be ready to face the world, states the A&M website.

5. Memories

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Photo: Sonia Ramirez

No matter where you spent your collegiate years forming those lasting memories and sharing your school pride with countless others, your class ring is a symbol of your Alma Mater that you can cherish for years to come and a legacy you can wear with pride of the time you spent on your campus.

Do you have special memories of your ring ceremony? Share a unique ring tradition your school carries and you just might find another Cougar, Longhorn, Bobcat or Aggie, to name a few, to connect with.

Visit www.youtube.com for a video highlight of the UH ring tradition.

References:

University of Houston Alumni

Texas State University

Texas A&M University