By Tina Michelle Cameron
Little did I know when my son Corey started college in 2009 at The University of Alabama, that there was so much tradition at this school. Over the years since he graduated, I have learned to love this university more every day. As many of you know, I began school in January 2016 taking prerequisite just to apply to UAs BSN Distance Learning (online) program. Well, I did it. I graduated in 16 days!
Bama, as I and many others affectionately refer to UA, as is all about tradition, family, and friends. I am a huge college football fan, and every third Saturday in October Alabama plays the Tennessee Vols. I am from Knoxville and love UT, so we are a house divided. After a win over UT, the guys and girls in the stadium all light up cigars. This tradition started many years ago, and this is the only time lighting up is allowed in Bryant Denny Stadium.
Another wonderful tradition I found out about last year when I was accepted to UA is the class ring ceremony. I knew if I could get in and do well in the program, that upon graduation, I wanted a class ring. Every April the university holds a class ring ceremony for anyone who wants to participate. My ring ceremony was held on April 4, 2019 in a beautiful conference room in the Bryant Conference Center. There were 400 students who participated, and I was proudly the oldest! The tradition starts 24 hours before at exactly 18:31 (military time), and the ceremony starts at 18:31—this time is significant because The University of Alabama was founded in 1831.
Starting the day prior to the ceremony, the rings are delivered via police vehicle to our beloved Denny Chimes (our clock tower). It is sacred to all who love UA. It is escorted to the front of Denny Chimes by two UA Air Force ROTC members until the clock chimes at 18:30, and once that is over at 18:31, someone unlocks the door and the ROTC members escort the beautiful hand-carved wooden chest into the main floor of Denny Chimes. And for the next 24 hours, there is a police officer guarding Denny Chimes and our precious class rings. This tradition started in 2016, the year after my son graduated.
Twenty-four hours later, everyone participating in the ring ceremony and their families join the President of the university (President Bell) in the conference room and watch a live stream of the ROTC removing and escorting the chest containing the rings to a awaiting police SUV which is then driven with lights and sirens to the ceremony and escorted in. Each name is called of those students receiving their rings and they are given their ring and then cross the stage to meet and take a photo with President Bell. At the end of the ceremony, the students are then instructed to open their boxes and place their beautiful rings on their fingers. The ceremony is followed by a reception. It was a beautiful ceremony and a beautiful tradition that UA has, and I am honored that I took time to go participate in it and that my mom went with me to see it. I have wanted a four-year degree since I was 18. I am now 50 and have been a RN for 28 years, so this has been a long time coming.