Hi! My name is…

October 18, 2018

The truth is names are a part of every culture and are of enormous importance to those who receive them. Your name is the foundation upon which your individual identity forms and often ties into your individual values, gender, religion and race. This past month Eastside talked to various students to better understand the relationship students have with their names. Keep on reading to learn more!

Hi! My name is Abbrielle Lindberg (’19)

Filmed by Nafessa Jaigirdar and Edited by Sarah Zhang

“My parents were searching the Internet and came across my name, which means something like “fathers happiness” and thought to themselves “complicated sounds nice and has a good meaning? We’ll take it!” But in reality I don’t dislike my name at all, although I swear it’s always being misspelled/mispronounced. I’ve seen it as “Abrielle, Abriel, Abigail, Gabrielle, Gabbriella” As a result when I was in elementary school I made this song rap thing to help people remember how to spell it, it went “A Double B R I Double E with Two L’s In between.” I thought I was sooo cool (I wasn’t). Either way, I love my name and every time I hear someone say “you have such a pretty name” or “it’s so unique I have never heard of it before” it makes the few painful butcherings worth it.”

Hi! My name is Aliza Kotzen (’20)

“My name is in honor of my great grandfather and my moms grandfather Al, who came here on a boat from Russia when he was a kid in the 1910s. Once here he changed his name from the Russian-Jewish traditional Ruchmiel to the more American name, Abraham, who is also the father of the Jewish people. This seems fitting considering it was he who brought a majority of the Yiddish, Russian and Jewish roots of my family into America! Once here, he was nicknamed Abie, or Al. He shared countless stories of his experiences immigrating to this country to my mom, and unfortunately he died before I was born. In the Jewish religion, names are very important-however you cannot name a baby after someone living. My mom realized this was the perfect way to honor her grandfather who meant so much to her! Aliza is also an Israeli name- paying homage even further to my roots!””

— Aliza

Hi! My name is Lakshaye Anand (’19)

Filmed by Nafessa Jaigirdar and Edited by Sarah Zhang

“Lakshaye means a goal or a target in life in Hindi!! But a lot of people, especially in Mr. Rouen’s Chem class last year, would usually add boomshaka in front of Lakshaye because it kinda goes with the flow. And then some call me LACKshaye which annoys me because it makes me feel like I’m lacking in something.”



Hi! My name is Abdulhaey – ee { ACE } Asim (’21)

“This is actually a pretty funny story. I have two names. The actual first name on my birth certificate is Abdulhaey – ee, which means “Servant of God” in almost three different languages !! The nickname, which everyone calls me by is Ace, which was given to me in two different ways: one way was by my baseball coach who called me Ace because I was perhaps the fastest kid on the team and did really well. I was also called “golden cleats” for the same reason, as well as the fact that I actually had real golden cleats (not real gold I’m not that cool). I was also called Ace by my teachers before many times due to my excellence in academics and studies, with the straight A’s and all. Get it?””

— Ace

Hi! My name is Debora Goldberg (’20)

Filmed and Edited by Sarah Zhang

“My name comes from the Bible. Deborah (different spelling than my name) was the only female prophet, which made her a really powerful woman. The name also means victorious. Knowing that this is what my name means changes my perspective on life; it helps me remember that I can achieve anything I put my mind to.”

Hi! My name is Cherisse Xu (’19)

“My sister loved that movie Clueless from 1995 with Alicia Silverstone and Stacy Dash, so naturally I was named after the protagonist “Cher,” right? But as I grew up my sister wanted me to use the pronunciation emphasizing the “CHER” part like “CHER is,” but people called me Shuh Reese, so I just stuck with it. Now the reason for that was because, unbeknownst to her when she named me, Cherisse and its variants were stereotypically black names (debatable). Every once in a while, I’ll meet someone that goes, “You’re named Cherisse? You’re not black.” Now I don’t really have much to say in response to that, nor do I have anything against my name in general, but I just find the origin story to be very amusing albeit taboo. Yeah, like 2/60 subs have ever gotten it right on the first try, but I don’t dislike my name, since it’s just a string of sounds you make to get my attention.””

— Cherisse

Hi! My name is Theodore Ruddow (’22)

Filmed by Nafessa Jaigirdar and Edited by Sarah Zhang

When I was twelve, I finally discovered and accepted that I was a boy. This marked the beginning of an ongoing journey that is never going to get easier. But the story behind my name itself is simple and rather underwhelming. Starting online, I experimented with different names – Damien, Adam, Andrew, etc. – and nothing felt right. They were nothing more than fake names and not the identity I was looking for. Eventually, I moved on to yet another name – Theo. It felt totally different. I can’t explain it besides that it just clicked, as if it was my name and had always been. I used that name to come out to my friends and family, and the latter helped me choose a middle name – Isaac. We are proud of our family history and Isaac was the name of one of our most prominent ancestors from the early 1800s. If I had been born male, it was the middle name I would have been given, and so I took it as a tribute to my family. Since I had given up the name they gave me when I was born, it felt only right. My name contributes so much to my self-confidence and acceptance of who I am, and I am proud of the fact that I own it.

Hi! My name is Cassie Cuddihy (’19)

“My legal name is Catherine, but my nickname is Cassie. While my parents spent long hours to finally settle upon the name: Catherine, it didn’t stick too long. I believe that my great grandmother’s name was Catherine as well, and her nickname was Cassie. I’ve been told that at the moment my mom first held me in her arms she called me “Cassie” and my dad was very confused because they had not settled on that name. While Catherine is a great name, I feel so unique having a name unlike anyone else. When attendance is called by a substitute teacher, it takes me a few moments to realize that “Catherine” is me. I believe that my name has helped me to become a person who likes to be different from others and more unique.””

— Cassie

Hi! My name is Jewel Kunnumpuram (’19)

Filmed by Nafessa Jaigirdar and Edited by Sarah Zhang

“I’m named after Jewel Kilcher; originally was going to be named Kitty Kunnumpuram.”

Hi! My name is Saurabh Shah (’19)

Filmed and Edited by Luke Shin/Video Editor

My name literally translates to “fragrance” in Hindi. So why did my parents name me this? Was this a clever way to get back at me for filling the house with unsavory scents during my infancy? Maybe. Or maybe they just wanted to remind me to always wear deodorant?

Too lazy to ask my parents, I’m left only to speculate, searching for some deeper meaning to such a random name. Perhaps, like the delectable scent of baked goods, I’m on the minds of everyone in my presence (or prescents), filling their thoughts with nothing but pure happiness. Realistically, it’s probably not any of these things. I think they just liked the way it sounds. “Saurabh. Suh-rub.” Pretty cool name I guess.

Hi! My name is Isabella (’20)

“My name is Isabella, but it’s supposed to be pronounced like ee-sabella if that makes sense. My mom is Puerto Rican and there is a City named Isabela that she was going to name me after, but she said she didn’t want me to constantly need to correct people if they spelled my name with 2 L’s instead of 1 so she made it less unique so I could fit in better I guess. I also hated telling people to pronounce it esabella when I was younger so I just told them to pronounce it Isabella my entire life. I also don’t look Puerto Rican because I’m blonde and really pale so when people see my name and my face they just think to pronounce it Isabella. My nickname is also isa pronounced sea but everyone is confused when I tell them that so I tell them they can call me whatever they want.””

— Isabella

Hi! My name is Blake Weiss (’19)

Filmed by Nafessa Jaigirdar and Edited by Sarah Zhang

“As a trans person, I chose my own name. I wasn’t given this name when I was born, but I had to instead go through a path of self discovery to reach the point of coming up with a name for myself. I still wanted to keep the same initials because I was named after my mom’s dad who died when she was a child.”

Hi! My name is Caleb O’Neill (’19)

Filmed and Edited by Luke Shin

“My parent were thinking? What would we name a really cool and smart and handsome kid? Then they decided that a name that would fit that criteria would be “Wolfgang” or something like that, and chose the opposite of that which was Caleb.”

Hi! My name is Tahsin Shadat (’20)

“My mom saw the name ‘Tahsin’ in a book of Muslim names. The name means “enhance” in Arabic, but my mom just liked the way it sounded. Oddly enough, it was listed in the girls section at the time, but it is more common among males to have my name. In addition, I have other family nicknames that aren’t related to my first name at all! It’s sort of a Bengali thing, and only my family calls me those names. In Bangladesh, it is common for children to have ‘pet names,’ which is what their family will call them and ‘proper names,’ which are used professionally and at school.””

— Tahsin

Hi! My name is Chen Zayden (’19)

Filmed by Nafessa Jaigirdar

When I first moved to the United States, I went to a private Jewish school, where I tried to find myself an American name to make it easy for others to communicate with me. I asked people to call me Hannah, which was the closest American name to my own that I could think of. Even though I wanted to make it easy for myself and others by having an American name, I eventually asked everyone to call me Chen again because I love my name and no other name would fit me better. Once I moved to a regular public school, I realized how hard it is for Americans to pronounce my name. I had a teacher who called on students randomly during class. He would call on me every day, but I often didn’t realize it because he couldn’t pronounce my name. I only realized that he called on me when the class was silent and everyone stared at me. I even had a teacher who called me “Hank”, after I corrected her multiple times. When I order food or drinks in a place that asks for a name to go with the order, I don’t even bother saying my real first name. I either give the place my middle name or spell out “Chen” because I don’t like introducing myself by pronouncing my own name wrong. Every once in a while, someone asks me for the origin or meaning of my name because it’s so “unique”, but usually I just get a weird look as a reaction to my name. I even have friends who told me that they initially did not speak to me at all because they didn’t want to offend me by mispronouncing my name.

Many people don’t understand that a lot of “weird” names have a meaning behind them. Even though my name is very common in Israel, it is odd and hard to pronounce for most Americans. I was named after my great great grandmother, whose name was Channah. My mother was nine years old the day she passed away and promised God that she’ll name her first child after her because she loved her so much. Chen is the modern version of the name Channah, and it means grace or beauty.

Hi! My name is Liliana Pugliese (’19)

Filmed and Edited by Sarah Zhang

“I was originally gonna be named Sophia Claire. But when my mom was pregnant with me, she watched an Italian movie (My dad is an immigrant from Italy) and saw “Liliana” in the credits. She liked it, so that became her final decision. And Liliana means the flower “Lily” and that is what everyone calls me. It has been my nickname since forever!”

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