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Photo: Genessa Gutzait· The Sentry

I’m currently in the midst of finally changing my last name, something that I’ve been meaning to do for years now but life had always interfered, and it’s had to be repeatedly pushed back until a later date.

There’s fingerprinting, background checks, petitioning, and proofs of publication to be done. Some of it has to be timed carefully or the process has to be started all over again. Then once all of that is done with, I still have to appear for a hearing. The system definitely is not making it easy to leave this name behind. And by extension, it’s not making it easy to leave behind the grief and traumatic memories that come along with said name.

The catalyst for finally getting this process started came from the application for graduation becoming available at the beginning of this month. It struck me that I really do not want my current last name on this diploma that I worked so hard for. The side of the family associated with this name did not support, assist, or have any hand in getting me here. I do not want that stark lack of contribution to forever be hung up on my walls. 

But this name change goes beyond ink printed in script font on fancy cardstock paper. This name change will bring a sense of pride for the family name to myself as well as recognition of the family that has supported me when I hit rock bottom and had to drag myself back up, encouraged me to take the leap on a study abroad program and a new job, and constantly reassured me that I am capable of getting through every challenge that has been thrown at me.

A name is more than just a few letters thrown together. It carries an identity and representation not only of that person in the present moment but of their past and family, too. And of course, for me, it gives credit where credit is due because I could not have achieved all that I have without my family.


Guest columns are written by The Sentry staff writers to give them the experience of writing  an editorial and the platform to share their stories.

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