What’s in a Name?

Research can be fun, especially when the topic is you!  Join us at Germ U as we feature creative research by high school students that might spark your own scholarly insights.

Our first feature series is called “What’s in a Name?”  Our newest Germ U staffer, Clara Matson, gets us off to a terrific start with her research into her own name.  Welcome, Clara!


girlinswingIt’s odd to think that a two syllable word can define me, grab my attention, and stay with me for the rest of my life. Most people I know dislike their names and wish that they could change them. Not me.

Some people dislike their names because there are too many people they know with the same name. Not me. I am the only Clara in a school of 2,300 students and faculty. Furthermore, I have never met another person with the same name as me. I have met a few close ones, but they’re still not me.

I’m Clara.

No, it’s not “Klara,” “Claira,” or even “Klaira” — which I didn’t know were names until Starbucks employees and others succeeded in saying or spelling it wrong. It’s just Clara.clara

Like most people, my mother chose my name. I’m named after St. Clara of Assisi (My brothers are named after Saints, too: St. Gregory and St. Thomas). The story of St. Clara is that she loved St. Francis, yet he didn’t want to marry her because of his love for God. She then founded a women’s religious order group called the Poor Claras. Isn’t that a wonderful name to live up to? A love story.

Your name really is important. No one would believe how many stories I’ve heard about people who are in a love-hate relationship with their names. It’s too long, too short, or doesn’t sound pretty. Well, let me tell you a little secret: Since it’s your name, you can change it however you’d like! Your parents, friends, or peers and teachers at school don’t have control over your name. The possibilities are endless. You can give yourself a nickname, change the way it sounds, or go all the way and legally change it. In fact, a lot of famous people have changed their names to ones that they felt reflected the image they wanted.

What does your name mean?  Are you brave and empowering? Find out here.  You can also find interesting information about your name at Seven Reflections, and you can research the history of your name at Behind the Name.

A website can’t really know who you are based on your name, but it’s fun to research your name and learn about the history and meanings attached to it.  Of course you are the one who really gives your own name meaning through the life you are creating every day.  Despite the experiences I’ve had with people not pronouncing my name correctly — and the dubious achievement of being named after a religious love story — I know that one day my name will mean something about me.  I want to be an actress, and soon the name “Clara Matson” will be plastered on the cover of every magazine and bulletin board across the US.  Just wait.

We’d love to hear what you find out about your name and how you are giving it your own special meaning.  Write to us at [email protected] and mark your submission “What’s in a Name?”

You could be the next Germ U special feature!


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