The UBC Name Project – Jeanie


“On my dad’s side of the family, everyone’s first names start with a J (although generally my dad and my uncles go by their middle names.) My mom was struggling to come up with a J-name, especially as my older cousin on her side had just been named Jennifer. She didn’t appreciate that her brother, who didn’t even need it, had already used “a perfectly good J-name!”. One of my mom’s coworkers at the time was named Jeanie, and after some deliberation, she went with it. She also didn’t know that Jeanie is often spelled with two “n”s, and she went with the same spelling as her co-worker.”

The UBC Name Project – Brook


BrookBrook: First of all this is Brook without an E. Adding an E is a major pet peeve of mine.

Name Project: Ok! Duly noted. So your name story?

Brook: My parents named me Brook for a couple of reasons, neither of which seem particularly interesting. First of all they were looking for a name that was modern and a little bit unique. They were also attracted to Brook because of the streams that are also called brooks. Both my parents grew up in Vancouver and as such nature was something important to them. Also, the natural beauty of a brook attracted them to this name.

The UBC Name Project – Rob


RobPeople that have interacted with me in different times call me different names. When I was young boy, people called me ‘Bobby.’ These people are mostly dead now though. *laughs* Then people started calling me ‘Bob’ in my early teens. The only time I was called ‘Robert’ was when I knew I was in for some shit. But other than that, it was a traditional thing to call me ‘Bob.’

Then at a certain point in life, almost fifteen years ago, I tried to go by ‘Rob’ as an experiment.

Throughout my life, I’ve noticed this change in culture regarding status in late 70s or early 80s. In my early life, it was a positive and traditional thing to call people by nicknames like Joe, and Mike. But then ‘Joe’ started calling themselves ‘Joseph,’ and ‘Mike’ started called themselves ‘Michael.’

I always saw formalizing names as dressing for business or success. Formalization sets in, and the old casualness has become something negative, though I don’t agree with it at all. It’s kind of like when I have a suit and a tie on, people treat me differently, more so for women if they dress differently. I read a book by David Foster Wallace, who wrote about names in an essay in his book, Consider the Lobster. He talks about how names affect your status and influence, you should read it.

Also, here’s a personal example: my sister ‘Jane’ used to be ‘Janey.’ Then at a certain point, she rejected the name ‘Janey,’ claiming that it was not dignified enough. And so, she started to use the more formal name ‘Jane’ as a status symbol. I had to train myself to not to call her Janey. It seems that she wants to go back to being ‘Janey’ as time passes however. Personally, ‘Bobby’ is sounding better and better to me as I get older and older.

See The UBC Name Project on Facebook to see the rest of Rob’s interview.

The UBC Name Project – Umang

Umang Pooja Khandelwal:


My name Umang is of Sanskrit, Indian origin, meaning ‘happiness,’ ‘hope’ and ‘enthusiasm.’ I was given this name so that I am always aware that one’s success is defined by their happiness quotient. With graduation round the corner and the dawn of a new chapter in my life, I am beginning to realize now more than ever how my name defines me and the choices that I make.

Today on International Women’s Day, I want to share how my middle name came to be. In the majority of the Indian subcontinent, naming conventions follow that a person carries their father’s name as their middle name. Living in a largely patriarchal society in India, my mother defied the existing norms and put up a strong fight against the resistance she faced by the legal system. This unprecedented act led to my middle name being my mother’s name, something I am very proud of. It is a reminder of who I am and what I stand for, and the reality that we have a long ways to go to achieve gender equality. Umang gives me the hope for a better tomorrow and Pooja inspires in me the tenacity necessary to achieve it.

The UBC Name Project – Alexandra



I got the nickname ‘Alex’ in Grade 6. It’s so common to abbreviate names like ‘Alexandra’ to ‘Alex’ here in Canada, but when I lived in Holland, people called me ‘Alexandra.’ They were so weirded out that my nickname was ‘Alex,’ because apparently it was mostly a male name over there.

My name means ‘the defender of mankind’ or ‘the defender of warriors,’ and I think I live up to that meaning a lot. I’m a passionate social justice activist – I have worked with Me to We in Shanghai, and my goal is to make a career through creating a sustainable change.

The UBC Name Project – Armaan



While deciding what name to choose, my dad read an article by an author named Armin. Both of my parents immediately liked the name and went with Armaan because of its connection to the Urdu word ‘Armaan.’ ‘Armaan’ means ‘ambitions,’ ‘hopes’ or ‘wishes.'”

“Do you think your name defines you well?”

“Yes, I definitely believe so! I think that the notion of hoping or desiring implies a certain knowledge of personal goals. I definitely feel like this describes me because I am very aware of my own personal goals.

The UBC Name Project – Mankirat



My name was uncommon in my own Punjab community at the times my parents named me. I’ve met people with the suffix ‘kirat’ like ‘Jaskirat’ and ‘Harkirat.’ but I have yet to meet another ‘Mankirat.’ My name means ‘setting your mind to something and working to achieve it,’ so it’s nice to have that inspiration when I’m doing school work or something.

When I was seven or so, I used to really hate my name, because kids in my school would always mispronounce my name, and say ‘MankiRAT’ instead of ‘Manki-rit,’ and then go ‘Haw haw, you have a ‘rat’ in your name!’ And so I would come home and demand to my parents that I get a name change immediately. I think I hurt my parents’ feelings a bit because their daughter disliked the name that they gave her. Now that I am grown up, I love my name because it allows me to share my culture when asked about its origin.

The UBC Name Project

UBC Name Project- banner

Post by Lilian Higashikata, Equity Ambassador and 3rd-year Arts student

UBC is a large university with 58,284 students, of which 10,181 of the students are from 149 countries, supported by 15,171 staffs. On a campus with such incredible population, it’s very easy to feel lost in numbers and forget to see that the UBC community is made up of diverse individuals.

In a hope to remind the UBC community (including you and me!) that every one of us is unique, I decided to create a social media blog (inspired by the Humans of New York project) that highlights and celebrates what is one of the most basic parts of our identities – our names.

Through the Name Project I am inviting the wider UBC community to take some time to learn the meaning and stories behind our names and reflect on our diverse cultural backgrounds, heritages, and identities.

My hope is that participants and readers will be inspired to ask their peers about their names and be open to it leading to discourse on diversity, intercultural understanding, and ongoing learning about their own family background and heritage.

I will attempt to interview two to three people each week, and post their story and picture onto our Facebook page. If you see a girl in an Equity Ambassador hoodie with a camera looking for another person to interview, feel free to come say hi, and tell me more about yourself! My personal goals include making new friends and listening to more stories!




My name is pronounced ‘dretty.’ Kind of like ‘pretty’ but with a D instead of P. My friends came up with it because people find it so hard to pronounce my name. Whenever I’m in class and a prof is taking attendance and freezes, I raise my hand and say, ‘I think it’s me.’

My name ‘Dhrti’ is actually a Sanskrit name. Sanskrit is a really old language that dates back to 1500BCE, and it’s a root language for many other languages. My name means ‘joy,’ ‘happiness,’ and ‘command,’ and it’s also connected to a powerful Hindu goddess, Parvati. I haven’t met another Dhrti in my life, so I really love my name.