Her Cobber ring sits in a glass dish, unworn. The golden “C” in a rectangular ruby surrounds “05,” the year Jade Rosenfeldt graduated from Concordia College. Now an attorney at Vogel Law Firm in Fargo, N.D., Rosenfeldt doesn’t wear her ring.
Each year, hundreds of juniors and a handful of seniors spend $500, $600 or $700 to purchase the idolized rite of passage to wear proudly on their right hands, but after graduation day comes and goes, when the diplomas are hidden in boxes and real life ensues, some Cobbers like Rosenfeldt take off their rings. Even if they don’t wear them, however, most Cobbers who coughed up the cash are glad they did so.
Rosenfeldt graduated from Concordia in 2005 with degrees in sociology and social work. While she didn’t purchase a ring right away, she caved by senior year. People see the ring as a badge of honor, she said. It’s reflective of someone who not only graduated from Concordia but is also a part of a specific community. It shows achievement, status. But on top of all that, it’s a personal memento.
“It’s like an engagement ring,” she said. “It’s reflective of a commitment, of work put into something.”
Yet Rosenfeldt doesn’t wear her ring on a daily basis. When she wore the ring, it started conversation. She was one more example of a story any student on campus has heard. But, when she and her husband, Steve, got married, her ring fingers were full. After her sister died in a car accident, Rosenfeldt and the women in her family decided to get commemorative rings.
“It allows me to to look down and see her,” she said.
The Cobber ring was bumped.
Petty officer Laura Auer enlisted in the Navy after graduating from Concordia in 2010 with a major in English writing. Her mom bought her the ring senior year, and as a Navy woman working with others fresh out of high school, the ring is much more personal.
“It’s a reminder to myself,” she said, “that I’m an intelligent person with a college degree.”
She wasn’t originally sure that she wanted a ring, but now it reminds her of what she’s done, of where she’s called home. Once, at her naval optometrist check-up in Portsmouth, Va., the optometrist said she’d seen a lieutenant with the same ring–not a similar one, as Auer insisted, but the same one. After the optometrist went and fetched the lieutenant, Auer connected with a Cobber 1,500 miles from campus.
Yet for other alumni, it’s not a ring in a dish or a personal reminder. It’s a way of life.
Assistant director of admissions Katherine Halvorson, a 2002 graduate who majored in organizational communication and religion, found her passion and her family at Concordia. She considered working in geriatrics, a church profession, event planning or human resources, but she worked in admissions throughout her time as a student. After graduation, she began working in the office full-time.
“The connection people make to this place is kind of neat,” she said. “This place is steeped in tradition.”
She met her husband, Joe, a 2004 graduate, while working the front desk in the admission office and complaining about filling a CSC-equivalent commissioner position (for which Joe applied and filled).
“Concordia put two rings on my fingers,” she said.
She got her Cobber ring as soon as possible, during the beginning of her junior year. Her husband, a few years behind her, didn’t get his ring as a junior. By that time, they couple was married and had a baby, so his parents purchased his ring as a graduation present.
“As someone who values tradition and establishing roots, it’s nice,” she said.
Rosenfeldt’s ring is unworn but not unloved. She sees it every day, and said she would gladly buy it again knowing it would rest in that glass dish.
“It’s a really great tradition,” she said. “Most colleges don’t have such a following. The community is something to be proud of.”
I am a senior majoring in political science and journalism, and I am minoring in music. Next year, I will study law at the University of St. Thomas, and I can’t believe my time at Concordia has gone so quickly.