BY Andrea Torres | THE RIDER
With graduation less than three months away, seniors are preparing to purchase their commencement cap and gown, and starting this semester, they can also buy the first UTRGV class ring.
“Definitely something that looks very well-done,” said Saire Moreno, a graphic design senior, about what she wants the ring to look like. “Definitely want for it to represent what I did in college.”
As previously reported by The Rider, the UTRGV Official Ring Committee received more than 800 responses from a survey asking for input on the ring design, which was administered on Feb. 5 by the Office of the Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration.
The survey was available until Feb. 19 and more than 70 percent of respondents were students, said Letty Benavides, assistant vice president for Campus Auxiliary Services and chair of the committee.
Benavides said a member of the committee, Associate Art Professor Donna Sweigart is the lead creative designer of the ring and specializes in jewelry. Sweigart assigned her class to help create the design.
Members of the ring committee include Student Government Association President Denisse Molina-Castro, Residence Life Director Sergio Martinez, Student Activities Director Cindy Mata-Vasquez, SGA Edinburg Vice President Peter Averack, College of Business and Entrepreneurship Senator (Edinburg) Alberto Adame and Alumni Relations Executive Director Isis Lopez.
Last spring semester, about 25 students in Sweigart’s Intermediate Jewelry and Advanced Jewelry classes were assigned to create preliminary ring designs.
“The first thing we did was research and we looked at all the aspects of the Valley,” Sweigart said. “It is something that actually means a lot to us. The students in my class were from all over the Valley. … We took a holistic, historical research of the Valley as a whole.”
Students are working with ring manufacturer Jostens to produce the two ring designs, which will be presented Tuesday or Wednesday to a student focus group, Benavides said. The group consists of the SGA executive team.
“We want to keep the group small,” she said. “The reason why we focus on the SGA executive team is, obviously, they are the representatives of the student body.”
If the focus group decides to alter the design, it may push back the reveal date, but Benavides said the goal is to have the ring available for this semester’s graduates.
“Hopefully, we’re going to agree on the same one,” she said. “Then, of course, taking those recommendations, the official ring committee will make a final recommendation to the president.”
Once the final design is approved, Benavides said the committee plans to release the official design to the campus community later this month and students can buy their ring in November.
Among the group of students who are working with Jostens on the designs is Vilma Flores, a sociology and studio art senior.
“I think it is really amazing that they allowed students to participate in something so big and something so special,” Flores said. “This is something that’s for us. … We felt that it was really important to build something that we would all enjoy and we felt proud of.”
Other students in Sweigart’s class assisting in the final stages of design are Fabian Pedraza, Daniel Hernandez, Oscar Padron, Gloria Reyes and Lino Guiza.
Flores has also assisted with the design of other UTRGV commencement items, such as the UTRGV ceremonial mace and the presidential medallion as part of Sweigart’s classes.
The price of the ring is still to be determined.
—Brenda Garza contributed to this report.