April 17, 2012

Campus Voices: Julie Scamardo

Julie_Scamardo

Julie Scamardo

Meet Julie Scamardo: Julie Scamardo serves as the Aggie Ring Program coordinator at The Association of Former Students. She is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the office, determining the yearly Ring order and delivery dates and overseeing Aggie Ring Day operations.

Aggie Ring Day is one of the most anticipated academic milestones in an Aggie’s student career. It is the day they receive that band of gold that some have dreamed of since childhood. The Aggie Ring is a constant reminder of achievement and tradition. It is a visible symbol that connects Aggies around the world and identifies them as part of the Aggie family.

More than 9,000 students participated in Aggie Ring Day in 2011. The event is celebrated at the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center three times a year: April, September and November. The spring delivery revolves around Senior Weekend or Parents’ Weekend, whichever comes first. Parents’ Weekend was early this year, and it was the first time the event was held in March.

It all begins with earning the Aggie Ring, which boasts some of the toughest requirements in the country. Once a student meets the requirements, he or she can schedule an appointment to get sized and select their Ring. Some students know exactly what they want while others are torn between two finishes, whether to add a diamond or what size fits best. The Aggie Ring Program is there to assist them throughout the process. We want them to be happy with their selection since this will be the Aggie Ring that they will wear for the rest of their life.

Typically, it takes three months from the time a student orders until Aggie Ring Day. During this time, Balfour, the Ring manufacturer since 1947, is producing and customizing each Aggie Ring. I’ve had the opportunity to visit the plant and was amazed at the amount of hand craftsmanship that goes into making the Aggie Ring. Each Ring goes through as many as 30 ¬†operations before it is complete. Once the entire group has been manufactured, Balfour boxes them up and sends them to College Station.

To prepare for an Aggie Ring Day, the staff divides up and manages different tasks, such as unpacking, sorting, inspecting, double-checking the Rings to match the delivery lists and packaging the ones that will be shipped. There are numerous other Ring Day details to prepare for, from managing the volunteers who distribute Rings to passing out stickers, managing traffic flow, organizing security, putting up signage and decorations, arranging bus shuttles, scheduling photographers and student performances, and working with vendors. Teamwork is in full force to organize the delivery day.

We anticipate more than 10,000 guests in our building, and every detail must be solidified for the event to run smoothly. We strive to make Aggie Ring Day a fun and positive experience because it is a day that they will always remember.

Aggie Ring Day has grown into a family-oriented event over the years. It is amazing to see generations of Aggies join their loved one as they receive their Aggie Ring. Last year, I recall a student taking an iPad in with him so that his family could watch him get his Ring via Skype. Many times, the parent or grandparent presents the Aggie Ring to the student and slips it on their finger for the first time. It is a rite of passage that generates a wide range of emotions. There are always plenty of hugs, tears, smiles, cheers and the occasional whoop!

After students receive their Aggie Ring, they get their official Aggie Ring Day sticker and go outside to pose for a free professional photograph. The 12-foot bronze Aggie Ring replica always seems to be a favorite spot for pictures. Also outside, students have the opportunity to purchase Ring Day T-shirts, watch student performances and pick up a free Slovacek’s sausage. Another fun addition to Aggie Ring Day is the live Twitter feeds displayed on the massive Huddleston Video Wall where guests read comments from excited students getting their Rings and congratulations from family, friends and former students.

When the last Ring is delivered and we clear away the last sign of life of Aggie Ring Day, the staff discusses what went well, special moments and opportunities for improvement. We take great pride in being part of each student’s Aggie Ring experience, from when they place their order all the way to Aggie Ring Day.

It is always rewarding to make an impact on one Aggie. Impacting thousands of Aggies with a day they will cherish forever is priceless.

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