Woodsies participate in Ring Day ceremony
March 26th, 2014 | Betsy Elliott
“Her ring we take, of us a part, encircling fingers young ‘round her heart. I pledge to her, a ring to keep, like Woods is lovely, dark and deep. And I have promises and miles to go.” With these words, part of the Ring Song, the 92nd annual Ring Day ceremony at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) concluded. Echoes of the recipients’ collective voices beautifully fell on the hush of the audience in the Church of Immaculate Conception on Sat., March 22, 2014.
Among those 81 traditional campus, Woods Online and graduate students receiving their Woods Ring was equine studies major Lindsay Whitehead of Friendswood, Texas, a recipient of a Legacy Ring. While most students purchase their rings new, all students have the opportunity to apply for a Legacy Ring, a ring donated back to The Woods by its previous owner. Recipients are chosen, based on academic standing and financial need, by a selection committee. Whitehead’s ring is the legacy of Julianne Fischer Haefeli, a 1951 graduate of The Woods.
Haefeli, of Greeley, Colo., was a philanthropist and community advocate who dedicated her life to making a difference. She received numerous recognitions and awards, including the Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice Papal Medal from Pope Paul VI, an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Northern Colorado, and was the first recipient of the Francis Murphy Rumely Award at SMWC. She served on dozens of boards, many of which she eventually served as chairwoman or president. At the age of 82, she passed away on March 29, 2012, leaving behind three children, John Haefeli, Ann Scott and Joseph Haefeli, and two grandchildren, Amy Couchman and Phillip Scheller.
“I made the decision to donate my mother’s ring because I knew it was the right thing to do, something she would’ve wanted me to do,” said Ann Scott, daughter of Haefeli. “She was proud of her SMWC education, so I know she would be thrilled and honored to pass her ring on to a SMWC student. She believed in providing opportunity and giving back. Donating this ring stands for exactly what she believed in. To me, it means that this is an extremely special way her legacy will live on.”
For the recipients of Legacy Rings, gratitude, admiration and respect for their donors are feelings they will remember every time they look at their ring and carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Whitehead remembers the day she found out she would be receiving a Legacy Ring, stating that she was overwhelmed with joy, and with tears in her eyes, had to read the email several times just to make sure it was real.
“To be able to carry on a fellow Woods woman’s legacy is such an honor and a blessing. I will hold this ring very dear to me as it symbolizes my own growth, beloved friendships and cherished memories as well as my Legacy Ring donor’s own journey at The Woods,” said Whitehead. “This special ring is a daily reminder of our connectedness with current Woods women and those women who have gone before us.”
Other Legacy Ring recipients this year include Woods Online students, Jessica Blevins of Terre Haute, Ind., psychology major, Julia Madison of Terre Haute, Ind., accounting major, and Jennifer Smith of West Lafayette, Ind., human services major, as well as traditional campus students, Jessica Claycomb of Crawfordsville, Ind., graphic design major and Rebecca Klosowski of Lombard, Ill., environmental science major.
“Now that I have received my Woods Ring, I feel like all of my efforts have been rewarded,” stated pre-vet major Emily Kimbrough, of Chicago, Ill., after the ceremony. “I am ecstatic to be able to be a part of this unique tradition, and I have been waiting for this day for my whole life. The Woods has been a part of my family for many years, and I am honored to continue this tradition with them. It made this day much more meaningful.”
Students like Kimbrough are called Legacy Students. A student who is a 2nd generation or greater Woodsie is a Legacy Student. Kimbrough’s mother, Dr. Jennifer La Civita, graduated from SMWC in 1988, and her aunt, Melissa La Civita, graduated in 1995.
“The ceremony represented all the hard work and dedication I have put into my education,” said Kimbrough. “Attending SMWC is more than an education though, it is a sisterhood. I was able to look around at all my fellow Woodsies, and I saw the same sparkle in all of our eyes, and only we know how much this tradition means. The ceremony was a celebration for us all.”