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Belles around the world showcase class rings

| Friday, February 21, 2014

The Saint Mary’s College website now features the page “Belles Ring Around the World,” which is a social media campaign by the Marketing Department showcasing both alumnae and current Belles wearing their class rings in locations around the globe.

Alumna Caitlin DeCoursey (Class of 2012) said she wears her Saint Mary’s class ring for important occasions as she sees it is as a symbol of strength and accomplishment. On the Saint Mary’s webpage, DeCoursey wears her ring during her first round of chemotherapy.

SMC Ring chemoCourtesy of saintmarys.edu

“I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma one month ago and just started treatment,” she said. “I shared my picture to show other Belles who may be going through a difficult situation that we are strong. We are fighters. We can get through anything.”

Since her diagnosis, DeCoursey said the Saint Mary’s family has acted as an incredible source of love and support, and she said she feels especially connected to them when she wears her ring.

“I haven’t seen many of them since graduation because I live in Southern California, but they have still found ways to show they still care through cards, messages, gifts, or phone calls,” DeCoursey said. “I wouldn’t trade my fellow Belles for anything.”

Junior Sarah Dapper said all the women in her family attended Saint Mary’s and their class rings symbolize their time at the College. In her photo, Dapper is seen with four fellow Belles, showing off their golden rings.

SMC ring dappersCourtesy of saintmarys.edu

Dapper said she has waited to receive her class ring since freshman year and was excited to order and receive it in the mail her junior year. “The ring is beautiful, and because it is such a significant tradition, I enjoy wearing it all the time,” she said.

Even while traveling through airports, Dapper said people have approached her mother after noticing her Saint Mary’s class ring.

“It is great to see how such a small symbol means so much to all the women who attend or have attended Saint Mary’s,” she said.

Alumna Stephanie Cherpak (Class of 2013) said her website photo was taken at the Grotto during her engagement photo session with Notre Dame fiancé Matthew Clary (Class of 2013).

“The Grotto is a special place for us and not only because it is the location where we became engaged,” she said. “Matt says that it was a place at which he always found himself spending time after walking me back to Blinkie.”

The Grotto often served as a meeting place for the two throughout their college years, Cherpak said. The couple’s class rings are as symbolic to their relationship as is the Grotto.

“A relationship with God has always been a part of Matt’s and my relationship with each other, so lighting a candle together at the Grotto during the early months of our engagement serves as an outward symbol of the commitment to God we hope will always be central to our relationship,” she said.

The collection of lit candles at the Grotto and our SMC and ND rings remind us of the wonderful communities to which we belong, Cherpak said.

“Some people may think the SMC ring is a materialistic, money-making gimmick, but for those of us who have experienced what it means to be a Belle, we know that the Saint Mary’s ring is much more than a nice piece of jewelry,” Cherpak said. “It symbolizes a common experience among us, lived out in different ways; a community that will support, challenge, applaud, and console us when appropriate; and a place that will always make us feel at home.”

Cherpak said she wears her Saint Mary’s ring as it is a reminder of the institution and people who played a significant role in forming her into the woman she is today.

“It is comforting to always have a tangible piece of Saint Mary’s with me, an outward symbol of the many “pieces” of Saint Mary’s that are always in my heart and mind,” she said.

“In much the same way that religious brothers and sisters wear a specific pendant or pin to symbolize the community to which they belong, I wear my Saint Mary’s ring so that people will know I am a Saint Mary’s woman and proud of it.”

Cherpak now attends the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, a graduate school of theology and ministry, where a high percentage of students belong to religious communities. Many of them where rings, pendants, or pins that symbolize the religious community they belong to. since the Saint Mary’s ring looks unique, especially with its French Cross on top, Cherpak said she is often asked about the ring and its background.

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