Anyone unfamiliar with MSU’s newest tradition probably wondered why nearly 300 souls were walking from the Spartan Statue to Beaumont Tower in the rain.
Inside the tower, 100 MSU class rings
had spent the night, marinating in the energy and magic that seem to radiate from this place. Members of the Marching Band played the Fight Song as the crowd encircled the raised podium where I stood.
The rain continued to fall as I talked about a ring designed by the students and the special people each graduate had selected to place it on their fingers.
President Simon spoke of the permanent bond that the university forges on that graduation day. She echoed the words of John Hannah, “Up until the moment you receive your diplomas, you have been free to sever your connections with Michigan State at any time. But once you accept your diplomas . . . your status changes and you become a part of Michigan State forever.”
Stella Cash described the Spartan Nation: a family that would always be there in good times and in bad.
It was time for the ring presentations. Beaumont Tower tolled 93 times, once for each recipient. Concluding the ceremony, the band played MSU Shadows, and another stanza of the fight song.
Then it was over.
The rain continued to fall. But few wanted to leave this place. There were tears and smiles from those who comprehended, in this instant, the true meaning of what had just happened. I heard stories of first ever college graduates, living the true land-grant vision of an institution created to be a place where anyone with the drive and desire for a university education could make that dream come true. There were second and third generation Spartan celebrations and tales of students who had literally spent a lifetime in pursuit of the accomplishment that this ring now symbolized.
One woman had a significant other on her arm. I couldn’t help but notice the seeing-eye dog sitting patiently at his feet. “He can’t see me walk across the stage to receive my diploma,” she said as her own eyes welled with tears. “Today he understands how important this milestone is . . . to both of us.”
Raindrops cascaded across my face as I felt the deep gratitude that comes from being a Spartan helping Spartans.
I realized that my eyes were wet, too.
But it wasn’t from the rain.