More than a ring
Rebecca Buckland ‘09 was not a traditional Texas A&M student. She did not expect to ever attend college, but when she moved to Bryan with her husband, she committed to pursuing her education.
When she earned her Aggie ring at 90 hours, it was a physical reminder of the hard work and dedication that it took to earn her degree. She proudly wore it all the time, until one day six years ago she left it at home because it became loose on her finger after having a child.
“The ring was not fitting right, and I was worried about losing it if it should slip off, so I left it,” Buckland said. “I never took it off, but I left it by the coffee machine that one day.”
Buckland returned home after a day of teaching to find out they had been robbed. The ring was missing. She was heartbroken, but could not fathom spending money on herself to replace it at the time.
Former student Sarah Adams ‘21 was completing clinical teaching under Buckland when she learned that Buckland’s ring had been stolen.
“One day I asked her why she wasn’t wearing her Aggie ring,” Adams said. “She explained to me that her home was robbed a while back, and her ring was one of the items that was stolen.”
Adams said that when she heard Buckland’s ring was stolen it broke her heart because Adams recently received her own Aggie ring this past spring.
Reaching out to community
After hearing about Buckland’s stolen ring, Adams decided to reach out to the Aggie family and ask for help replacing it.
“I was talking to my mom about it and she suggested we go to the Aggie community,” Adams said. “She said that they would likely feel drawn to help since they know how much it means to have their Aggie ring.”
Adams set up a GoFundMe account to raise funds for the ring. She posted the link and a description of Buckland on Facebook and asked people to share the post to gain traction.
“I wrote up a description of what happened and explained to them that while being a teacher and a mom, you do not always have the time or money to allocate towards such a large purchase, such as an Aggie ring,” Adams said. “I explained that she was an incredible teacher, and she most definitely deserves the community to get behind this and support her to replace her ring.”
Within the first two weeks, generous donors pushed the fundraiser to the halfway mark.
“The GoFundMe was going off everywhere, and I even had friends in my sorority donate five or ten bucks here and there,” Adams said. “Every penny counts, and it just really helped us get to our goal of being able to replace her ring.”
What the ring means
Adams describes the Aggie ring as a symbol of the hard work and dedication required of you as an Aggie. She says when she sees it on her hand, it motivates her every day to give her best to teaching.
“I never thought I would be at A&M. I was not a conventional student; I transferred in,” Adams said. “But it was always a dream of mine to graduate from Texas A&M and receive an Aggie ring.”
Buckland shared that she also did not feel like a typical college student, so graduating was a huge deal for her. Her Aggie ring represented an accomplishment that she never thought she would make.
“I didn’t expect to be an Aggie. I didn’t expect to have an Aggie ring. And so, for somebody to take that from me, it really, really upset me,” Buckland said.
After the ring was stolen, Buckland searched the local pawn shops for months to see if it would turn up. Although she was upset that she no longer had an Aggie ring, she could not bring herself to replace it.
“I would have replaced it, but I have kids. And nowadays, if you are going to spend a lot of money on something, you spend it on your kids,” Buckland said.
Although Adams led the initiative to replace Buckland’s ring, she wanted the students in Buckland’s class to have a part in presenting it to her.
“I wanted the students to present her this ring because it was from the community, not just from me,” Adams said. “I really wanted her ring to represent the community giving back to her because she has given so much to them.”
Adams planned a surprise reveal for Buckland that took place in the school’s cafeteria. To prepare for the surprise, Adams created posters for the students to hold and a card that they each signed for Buckland.
“I do not think many of the kids really knew what was going on at the time, but I had a couple of them line up with signs,” Adams said. “I told them we were going to say surprise on three and when she walked in they started yelling and screaming and clapping.”
The signs read “Surprise Mrs. Buckland! We just ordered your Aggie ring!” When students read the signs all together, they were able to figure out what was going on.
“A lot of them have parents that are Aggies, so they were super excited to be a part of that,” Adams said.
Buckland said when she walked into the cafeteria, the students were really quiet, which was not normal. She noticed that everybody was looking toward the front, and the adults were videoing on their phones.
“I just assumed it was a birthday and we were going to sing, so I was kind of looking for who we’re singing to,” Buckland said. “And then my kids turned with the signs that said, ‘Surprise, Mrs. Buckland, we ordered your Aggie ring.’ When I first read it, I was like, ‘Am I understanding this, right?’.”
Adams approached Buckland and asked her if she realized what was happening. Buckland said when it finally hit her, she started crying.
“I turned away from all of the cameras that were videoing because I was a wreck and crying,” Buckland said. “The kids thought they scared me because I was crying, but later we had a lesson on what it means to happy cry.”
Buckland said she was grateful for Adams and what she and the Aggie community had done for her. She received her new ring on July 9 at the Clayton W. Williams Jr. Alumni Center.
“An Aggie ring represents so much to an Aggie, so for her and all the other Aggies that donated money and helped buy me a new one to be so considerate, it’s just such a thoughtful thing,” Buckland said.
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