ST. MARY-OF-THE-WOODS — When 2013 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College graduate Carrie Andrews co-presented her daughter Felica Andrews with an onyx ring during SMWC’s annual Ring Day festivities Saturday afternoon inside the Church of the Immaculate Reception, it brought back plenty of mixed memories for both Paoli residents.
A longtime tradition at SMWC, the rings were first presented to seniors from its Class of 1922 as a symbol of academic achievement. Over the years, the annual tradition has evolved into a splendid 90-minute ceremony that’s not just for seniors anymore.
“You have to have 92 credit hours or more [to be eligible for the ring ceremony] or you can be a junior or senior,” explained Felica Andrews, who plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in December 2016.
On Saturday, 98 persons — including Felica Andrews and Tribune-Star publisher B.J. Riley — received their rings one at a time from SMWC President Dottie King and a family member/friend of their choice. At the end of the ceremony, each recipient walked over to hand a single flower to his/her ring presenter.
Carrie Andrews, a 1980 North Putnam High School graduate who earned her SMWC degree in psychology three years ago, didn’t have her own ring presenter when she was a Woods student. But she was thrilled to serve as Felica’s co-presenter Saturday.
“This was so awesome,” Carrie told the Tribune-Star afterward. “I’m so proud of her. It’s because of her that I went back to college.”
The mother/daughter duo reminisced about how each helped the other through college.
Soon after Felica graduated from Paoli High School in 2007, she suggested that Carrie join her in enrolling at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
“So I went in 2008,” Carrie Andrews recalled. “Then she wandered away and quit while I kept going.”
The “wandered away” part was caused by Felica’s devotion to a boyfriend, who’s now an ex-boyfriend, the daughter admitted.
A few months after Carrie graduated from SWMC in 2013, Felica returned a few months later.
“This college was the best decision I ever made,” emphasized the younger Andrews, who’s now an online student. “Mom’s been behind me the entire way.”
Another unique Ring Day presenter/presentee situation was that of married couple Jordan and Hannah Schultz of Birdseye, Ind.
Jordan is a current SWMC online student majoring in math. Hannah, a 2010 SMWC graduate with a degree in graphic design (who went through her own Ring Day ceremony several years ago), served as a co-presenter for her husband Saturday.
“This was very special,” Jordan told the Tribune-Star. “It helps us connect on a different level. It gives us another thing that’s in common. And it helps me connect with the school to have her here.”
Like Felica Andrews, Jordan Schultz plans to receive his degree in December.
Interestingly, the couple first started dating in 2008 when Hannah was a SMWC student and Jordan was attending North Dakota State. By the time he transferred to The Woods in 2014, they were already married.
“It was great,” Hannah Schultz said of Saturday’s ring-presenting experience. “I hadn’t been to this college since I graduated, so it was like coming home.”
Jordan and Hannah Schultz have a 2-year-old son, an 8-month-old daughter ... and now a shiny, new ring.
David Hughes can be reached at 812-231-4224 or at email@example.com. Follow David on Twtter @ TribStarDavid.