For Ashley Gomez, the Bronc Ring she purchased symbolizes the hard work she put in toward earning her bachelor's degree in criminal justice and psychology from The University of Texas-Pan American.
"I stayed up until like 3 or 4 in the morning studying for exams, cramming, hectic schedules, (taking) more than 12 or 13 hours a semester, back to back semesters, no summer breaks ... I just felt like I deserve the ring ... and so I can look back and go, 'I finished,'" Gomez said.
Gomez was one of more than 100 UT Pan American students and alumni who participated in the third Bronc Ring Ceremony Friday, May 3 at the Edinburg Municipal Auditorium. The semi-annual event, which began May 2012, honors current and former students who have purchased the official University ring, which was designed and crafted by UTPA students and celebrates Bronc pride.
At the ceremony, UTPA Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Havidán Rodríguez and UTPA Alumni Association Vice President Arnoldo Mata (BA '81) shared their stories of how the class rings they have symbolize the hard work and accomplishments they have achieved. "Pan Am changes lives, not just our lives, but the lives of generations," Mata said.
Rodríguez, a native of Puerto Rico, told the crowd about how his grandfather helped him purchase his high school ring to honor him being the first in his family to graduate high school. The ring symbolized the first of many firsts, as he continued his education all the way to receive a doctoral degree.
"This is my ring," Rodríguez said. "With this ring I honor him, I honor my family, I honor my country. Wear your Bronc Ring, wear it with pride, tell your story and continue to make us, all of us, very proud of your achievements."
Gomez said she added two stars inside her ring to signify she is a second-generation college graduate. Her mother graduated from UTPA more than a decade ago. It was her mother's example that inspired her to go to college.
"I always wanted to come to Pan Am," she said. "My mom would always talk about it, and as a kid, I was the only kid at that time so I would have to come with her, so I got to explore the University ... I decided that I wanted to come here."
The UTPA Men's Choir closed the ceremony with singing the University's alma mater.