Student Spotlight: What's In a Name?

March 02, 2015

Student Spotlight: Jessica Lopez

By Jessica Lopez, Muscatine High School senior

Have you ever paid close attention to your name? Do you like it? Would you change it? Do you know what it means? The name that was chosen for you can vary from your family’s traditions, what country you’re born in, your culture or simply because your parents liked that name. In the U.S. there are 3,331 people named John Kennedy, 38 people named Morgan Freeman and only 1 named Ellen DeGeneres. There are 781,286 Jessicas and 734,733 people with the last name Lopez. There are 1,800 people in the U.S named Jessica Lopez and only 2 in Muscatine High School; one of them is me and the other one is a freshman.

So what exactly sets my name apart from the other 1,799 Jessica Lopezes in this country? Perhaps my personality, way of thinking or maybe my cultural background. One thing I know for sure that makes my name-choosing story different is the fact that my parents were misled. Misled in possibly the most heart stopping way when it comes to naming your newborn.

I was supposed to have a “D” name because my dad’s name begins with a “D”. The name they agreed to was Diego- Diego Lopez. Their second option was to name me after my mom’s grandfather and her uncle, Julian. Once I was born and the doctors told my parents I was a girl, their choices drastically changed.

My dad really wanted his little girl to be named Isabela, but my mom didn’t like it, so then their second option was Abril, which is Spanish for April. They both liked Abril since I was born in April. Then they thought of Jessica. My parents wanted a name that was easy to pronounce both in English and Spanish so they chose Jessica.

Instead of having a middle name, I have two last names, my dad’s and my mom’s; therefore my full name is Jessica Lopez Mendoza. My parents had no idea what the meaning of my name was until after they had chosen the name. Jessica, meaning God’s grace or “He sees”, is an Anglicization of the Hebrew name “Iskah” (I-S-K-A-H). It’s believed that Shakespeare came up with the name Jessica since the oldest record of the name being used is on his play “The Merchant of Venice”.

There are 32,000,000 names, but none of them describe an individual’s personality. I believe the way to identify someone is not only by their name, but by the way they carry themselves and treat others. How people see you depends fully on you, regardless of what name you have and its meaning. Like Juliet said in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”