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Symbolic Meaning

By Lisa Asher

When Baylor students receive their official class rings at the alumni association’s December 2 ring ceremony, they will be told the meaning of the symbols depicted on their rings. These images–which include bells, an ivy chain, and the Old Main Tower–are certainly important symbols within the Baylor family. But when I look at my Baylor class ring–sitting right now on the fourth finger of my right hand–I don’t see the Baylor seal or the green-and-gold gems. I see something that helped me reconnect to the Baylor family–something that brought me back home.

I know that it sounds like I moved thousands of miles away and traveled great distances, but the reality is that after pursuing my master’s degree in English from Baylor, I got a job right in good old Waco. The position was as a technical editor for an aeronautics company, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that if you had plopped me down on the moon, I couldn’t have felt more lost or confused.

Oh, I knew where to put the nouns and verbs and how to change a person’s writing. I just didn’t know how to do it tactfully. My first month there, I was named lead editor of a project, and I proceeded to rip into those aeronautics books like my life depended on it. When I presented them to the lead writer, Ken, at our first conference meeting, the documents were almost dripping in red ink.

Ken flipped through the first book silently and then passed it down the row to the other writers. The silence lengthened as they looked at each other and then at me. Suddenly, Ken launched himself across the table toward me, shouting and flailing his arms to illustrate his point about just how stupid I was and how much I had ruined his work.

A smart person would have left that day, but I had never failed at anything I’d tried before, so I was determined to stick it out and make it work. Besides, the salary was really good, and I had no idea what I would do next if I quit. Thus began my five-year career as a technical editor in Waco.

I wish I could say it got better, but the job only got worse from there. Seventy-hour work weeks became standard, and as I drove to and from work in the dark, I wondered if I’d ever have a normal life again. Then one weekend, I passed a jewelry store that was advertising a going-out-of business sale, including Baylor seal rings. On impulse, I stopped in, looked through the selection, and placed my order–all within the space of about ten minutes.

When I got my ring a week or so later, I couldn’t stop looking at it–not just because it was beautiful, but because it made me remember the friends, faculty, and community that were just a few miles–and another world–away from where I was now.

I started looking through the classified section of the Waco Tribune-Herald, and one day I saw the modest little job notice that would change my life. The position at the alumni association was only thirty hours a week and paid less than half what I was making, but I didn’t care. It was my own personal “welcome mat” back home.

When I went to my first ring ceremony as an alumni association staff member, I envied the students who got to walk across a stage, shake the Baylor president’s hand, and learn the meaning of the official ring. It’s a wonderful ceremony, and there are usually more than a few tears shed, by both students and their families.

But I’m also glad about how I got my ring, even if it was from a now-defunct jewelry store and even though I was of an “advanced” age. The symbols etched on the ring are meaningful–but so are the ones no one can see.

Click on Class Rings for more information about the alumni association ring program.

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