This article was written by Dlaine Miley, 2017 College Ring-In Scholarship Recipient.

College Ring-In Area 9 AttendeesHandbells have been a part of my life as long as I can remember, from kids choir at church all the way to college and the Baylor Bronze. Rehearsals and performances have been a mainstay through every stage, but when I entered my fall semester at Baylor, there was a sense that I would soon be ringing my final note, at least for some time.

I graduated from Baylor in December with a Master of Science in Information Systems, ending my six years with the Baylor Bronze which had seen me through both undergrad and graduate school. The idea of leaving the Baylor Bronze weighed heavy on my heart, but we all have to graduate eventually (although our director Bob Avant would probably prefer we did not). Early in the semester, however, Mr. Avant approached us with an opportunity: College Ring-In.

It was too good to be true: spending a couple of days doing something I love with other people my age who enjoy it too? Sign us up! So five of us from Baylor did! We had no idea what to expect other than some rather challenging music and probably meeting new people. What I did not realize at the time was how much the event would mean to me.

College Ring-In was more than a chance to meet people and have fun. For me, it was the opportunity to ring one last time with people I had, in some cases, been ringing with for years. My time as a member of the Baylor Bronze was not ending quite as soon as I thought.

My greatest takeaway from College Ring-In was the chance to meet other people my age who are enthusiastic about handbells. I made friends with people from all over the country, many of whom I know I will see before too long.

Now that I have graduated, I will be leaving Texas for a job in New York City, but thanks to College Ring-In, that move is a little less daunting: not only do many of the attendees live in the Northeast as well, but one of the attendees also directs an ensemble in the city. I knew I wanted to find a group to ring with wherever I would end up, and now College Ring-In has simplified that search.

I expected College Ring-In to be fun, but it ending up being a bridge between my collegiate and professional lives in a way I never thought possible. I simultaneously found closure with my time in college while opening new doors for experiences in New York, once again showing that handbells will always find a way to be a constant in my life. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to both Bob Avant and Area 9 for the chance to attend College Ring-In, and I will be forever thankful I had the opportunity to attend such a fun event.