The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

2024 Commencement Student Speaker: Lea Tarzy
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Excellence in Athletics Award: Meghan Quinn

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Excellence in the Arts Award: Joselyn Busato

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The story behind our names

It’s one of the first questions we ask when we meet someone, a stamp of identity and a piece of ourselves: our names. 

My name is Esther Zihui (子慧) Zhao. My name, a combination of English and Chinese, is a marriage of the worlds I inhabit, the languages I speak and the cultures that created me. My English/first name is both Biblical and American. I was named after Esther, Queen to King Xerxes of Persia (486 B.C). Esther was very brave, but not rash; she sought wisdom and advice when her people’s lives were in danger. In Chinese, names are assembled by taking separate characters from words and phrases. The first half of my name, “zi,” is one half of the word “hai zi,”  meaning “child.” The second half of my name, “hui,” is half of the word “zhi hui,” meaning “wisdom.” My parents named me “Zihui”(子慧) because they wanted me to seek the same type of wisdom and discernment as the Esther from the Bible when facing trials and tribulation. 

As someone who has always loved the meaning behind names, including my own, I was curious to learn more about the names within the Bucknell community, so I went around campus and asked people to share the story behind their name. 

“The reason my parents gave [my name] to me? I think it was just the most popular name in 2004.” -Ethan Dreese ’26

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“My great-grandmother’s name was Amelia, and so my mom called my great-grandmother and said, ‘hey! I just had a baby and her name’s Amelia.’ She went, ‘I have to go,’ and hung up the phone. My mom was like, ‘Oh no, she’s so mad at me for naming my daughter after her,’ and then it turns out that she was so happy that she started crying but she couldn’t let my mom know that she was crying.” -Amelia Boyd ’25 

“It’s the city in Italy where my parents got married.” -Siena Vestri ’25

“I was named after my deceased grandfather, also named Donald William Engelhardt.” -Donald Engelhardt ’25

“I’m named after my grandmother, my father’s mother, she’s recently passed away, so I’ve become the head of my family on my father’s side. Everybody calls me grandma, or mom, or auntie, or great-grandma.” -Hannah Boffah ’26

“My mom was inspired by a camp counselor she knew and liked the name, but Kendell is derived from a river in Europe, from the Kent River Valley.” -Kendell Beiler ’25

“Actually, I was supposed to be named something else, my parents had a deal that they weren’t going to tell anybody. A friend of the family guessed it, so my parents changed my name to Craig.” -Craig Beal, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering 

“My name is James Arthur. Now, there’s a middle name in there, it’s Kofi—it’s not coffee, please—Kofi means, well, it’s a name given to Friday born of a certain tribe in Ghana. So it simply means that I was born on Friday. You can tell me when you were born, I can naturally give you a name from Ghana. [Esther: Do you like your name?] Of course, I do, it’s a little bit British, but I’m okay with that.” -James Arthur, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering 

“I chose my own name, based on the meaning of my original one— I wanted to stay true to who I was, while still honoring where I came from. My friends just make jokes about the president though (which is very funny).” – Lyndon Beier ’27

“I was born to immigrant parents, who chose the name 慧敏 (huì mǐn) for me, but did not know how to spell it. Subsequently, my mother simply wrote down the characters on the name tag of a nurse in the room, leading to my name being Amanda instead.” -Amanda He ’26

In asking people about their names, I’ve learned that whether small or big, there is a beautiful story behind each name. In our names, we carry a unique history that extends beyond ourselves. 

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About the Contributor
Esther Zhao 
Esther Zhao , Arts & Culture Co-Editor

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