95th Ring Day

April 4th, 2017 | SMWC

Michelle Davis, Kelsey Hollis and Peggy Rolf
Michelle Davis '96, Kelsey Hollis and Peggy Rolf ’73 show off their rings

Ring Day at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is a beloved and revered tradition. On March 25, more than 100 students and graduates received Woods Rings from President Dottie King, Ph.D., in a poignant ceremony to celebrate and reflect on their academic journey.

It was a very special day for Terre Haute resident Kelsey Hollis who did not expect to have a ring. “I was working in the bookstore helping an alum order a ring for her son-in-law who is a graduate in the Master of Leadership Development (MLD) program. She mentioned that someday she planned to donate her aunt’s ring to an art major.”

Amy Woods and Shannon Sonderman
Amy Woods ’90 (l), co-presented Shannon Sonderman with a legacy ring.

Hollis couldn’t believe what she heard. With great excitement she explained, “I’m an art major and I don’t know how I am going to purchase a ring. The alum responded, “Providence is an amazing thing.” The two cried and hugged. And with that, the alum, Peggy Grimmer Rolf ’73, co-presented Sister Rita Ann Roethele’s ring to Hollis.

The impact of donating a ring to an art student became more meaningful to Hollis when she learned the ring belonged to 1949 SMWC graduate and art faculty member Sister Rita Ann Roethele. After teaching, she established a well-known art studio on the campus of the Sisters of Providence known as Roethele Studio.

Christine Van Dyn Hoven Nienhaus and her family
Christine Van Dyn Hoven Nienhaus ’03, husband Patrick and their two sons.

The Woods Ring provides many connections to past generations. Shannon Sonderman, from Jasper knows this first hand. Her aunt, Amy Woods ’90, co-presented Sonderman with her great aunt’s ring. The ring was from Mildred Sterm, a member of the class of 1932. “I am so excited to add to the legacy and the tradition of The Woods. This ring is a visual symbol of my connection to this campus and to my family.”

While many received rings as part of a family legacy, Christine Van Dyn Hoven Nienhaus ’03, received hers because of family. Her husband Patrick surprised her by purchasing the ring as a Christmas gift. “When I learned that she could also participate in the ceremony, it was no longer a secret and we made plans to be here with our sons.” Christine, a Woods Online (formerly known as Woods External Degree) graduate said after all these years she is still excited about receiving it. “It’s what the ring represents that means so much to me.”

Michelle Barrentine
Michelle Barrentine ’78, ’07G offered a reflection on the importance of the ring.

Keynote speaker and alumna Michelle Barrentine ’78, ’07G captured that meaning. “I encourage you to wear the ring daily for the rest of your life to remind you of the College’s vision to use faith and leadership to transform ourselves, our communities and our world.”