Beginning your senior year of college is a very special time. As finals begin to wrap up, you begin to think about how after the summer you will be in your last year as an undergraduate student. For some, it’s your last year ever having to study for tests, take finals, and endure the stress of registering for classes. For others, well, let’s just say I’m sorry you’re not completely free from tests and registration but you’re that much closer!

This is the time of year where somewhere in your brain, a flip is switched and all of a sudden everything you do must become an important memory of college because you're that much closer to walking the stage and getting your well-earned diploma. If you’re a Baylor student like myself, you’ve probably read a dozen or more articles about the top 20 things to do before you graduate or the Baylor bucket list to make sure you’ve checked off all the traditions Baylor has to offer.

Amongst those 20 things to do before you take your final steps across the stage is receiving your Baylor ring. This is a special, honorable time for you and your family to be a part of. As I, myself am a newly-labeled senior, I had the opportunity to receive my Baylor ring at the Baylor Ring Ceremony. This ceremony is for Baylor students who ordered their rings in hopes of being a part of this occasion. Now I know what you’re thinking, it’s just a ring. Order it and go on your happy way. I thought the same thing, but then I participated in the ceremony and thought a little different afterward.

Let me paint you a picture. You’re walking up to Waco Hall. All around you are young men and women dressed very nice. Some look like they would rather be anywhere but here, while others are smiling happily with their family who traveled to Waco to see them. As you walk into the building, you stand in line with the hundreds of other soon-to-be Baylor seniors waiting to sign in and find your seat. As the ceremony begins, all you can think is ‘wow this is going to be a smaller version of graduation’ (not as many people, but so many names to be called). You listen to a few short speeches from your student body president, your Baylor president, and student life director. All of them are telling you how this moment, right now, is an honor and you should be proud of yourself.

Finally, it’s time to hear what seems like an endless amount of names being called. Your row is told to stand and walk toward the stage and you start to feel a little nervous. What if you trip and fall in front of everyone? What if they pronounce your name wrong? Then finally, your name is called. You walk toward your president, Linda Livingstone, and shake her hand. She greets you with a big smile and says congratulations and hands you a small brown box with the Baylor crest imprinted on the top. You smile, shake her hand and walk off stage to wait to be told to put your ring on.

Now, this may seem like just a step-by-step process of what the evening looks like and you’re right, it is. But, what is important to note is that in these few moments of walking on stage and shaking your president's hand, to sitting in your seat and looking down at the box that has been given to you, is the reminder that you earned it. You sat through the endless lectures during the school year, you’ve endured the 6 a.m. registration time, you’ve suffered through those pesky 8 a.m. classes… and those 5 p.m classes.

You’ve cried tears over failed exams, you’ve had breakdowns in Moody library, you’ve endured all of the stress and drama college can give you.

But now, you can look down at your ring finger on your right hand and say, “I did it, I got a Baylor degree.”

As you begin your senior year of college, remember that you’ve made it this far in your college career. You still have a semester or two left, but nothing is stopping you from becoming an alum of Baylor University. You have earned it.