What’s in a name?

I have been thinking about this quite frequently due to three recent experiences. I saw Marvel’s “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, I read an attempt at a joke, and I participated in an icebreaker activity. The movie covered the phenomenon that Asian Americans tend to have two names; one from the family and one that is easily pronounced by English speakers (e.g. Shang-Chi changed his name to Shaun). The joke was: “Don’t name your kids after biblical characters without telling them the bible story, because Moses just robbed me.” And the icebreaker was “What is the meaning of your name?” So it is your turn, what is the meaning of your name?

My name is Melissa-Sue. The name “Melissa” comes from the Greek word μέλισσα (mélissa) meaning "bee", which comes from μέλι (meli) which is "honey" and Sue is a shortened form of Susannah which means “Graceful Lily.” When people hear the name “Melissa”, they allegedly perceive me as someone who is impressive, elegant, and noble. How am I living up to to my name?

Names are important because they record some aspects of a person’s birth or culture. For example, most ethnic names have meaning to who they are and where they come from (e.g. Shang-Chi translates to "the rising of the spirit" in Chinese). Sometimes names express the parents’ reaction to the birth of their child (example: Joy), sometimes are used to secure the solidarity of family ties (e.g., naming a child after grandmother or father), used to establish an affiliation with God (e.g., Michael- who is like God?), establish authority over another (e.g., King), or to indicate a new beginning or new direction in a person’s life (e.g., when Saul’s name was changed to Paul in the Bible).

Although I am Dr. Melissa-Sue John, at least once a day I receive an email from a student saying, “Hello Dr. Sue-John” or from a potential client or partner saying, “Hi Lauren!” The company’s name is Lauren Simone Publishing House. It is named after my two daughters, Olivia Lauren and Alyssa Simone. “Olivia” means peace and “Alyssa” comes from my sister’s name Alicia, which means honorable. The brand’s logo is the caricature of their faces when they were 7 and 13 years old. They are the inspiration behind the brand in every way. One night I was complaining to them about the lack of diversity in children’s books and Olivia told me to stop complaining and be the solution. For years people told me to write books based on the stories I shared about my children on Facebook. Later, I met a mother of twins who told me she believed I could be a publisher and requested that I publish stories she had already written. That’s the story of how I went from a Professor of Psychology to a co-author of the Olivia Lauren Book Series and Publisher at Lauren Simone Publishing House. My daughters and I went into publishing to increase diverse representation in children’s literature. Our illustrators are mainly aged 10 to 21, and our authors range from 8 years old to adult. Our books are fun and educational in the topics of science, technology, acting, art, modeling, gratitude, fairytale, and social justice.

Reply in the comments and share the meaning of your name with us!! We want to connect with you. Follow us on social media @laurensimonepubs and attend one of our upcoming events. Admission is FREE!!

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