The Meaning of a Name

By Julianah Adubi
Boston Prep, Class of 2019, Valedictorian
Dartmouth College, Class of 2023


Julianah Adubi. This is my name. This is what I go by. This is what people call me. It’s this name that gets paired with both my successes and my failures. It is this name that my parents gave me. A name that represents a clash between two countries, a clash between two people. This name is my identifier. It is who I am.

But there were many others who came before me. My roots trace back to Nigeria where my grandparents worked as farmers. They worked tirelessly to provide for their children and themselves.  They endured the harsh conditions of a third-world country to pave a way for my mother to be here in this country today. Their names are Shotayo and Ajoke. When I hear their names, I am reminded of strength, of resilience, of self-discipline, and of devotion.

Throughout my years at Boston Prep my name stayed the same, yet people called me many different things. I was usually referred to as the girl with high grades, the girl who is first to raise her hand to answer a question. But to me, I am a girl who has experienced struggles, a girl who has been held back by my circumstances, yet I pushed all my pain away to find a way to maximize my education. I am a girl who has a purpose, and while my purpose may still be unknown to me, I am sure that one day I will fulfill it.

Some of you know me as Julianah, others know me as Adubi, but to me my name is diligent, capable, and reliable.

Now I’ve told you about my name, so now I wonder what’s yours? Who are you? Is your name something that you take pride in and cherish? As we, the Class of 2019, sit here, soon to graduate, I want you all, as you receive your diplomas, to read your name.  Then, read it again, and ask yourself what your name signifies to you. I want you all to think about all the names that had to have existed in order for yours to be a part of today’s graduating class. While moments in life are temporary, your name is everlasting.

As we all move on to the next phase in our lives, I can assure you that we will be called many different names. Some of them we will admire, while others we’ll hate. No matter what name you’re called, always remember that just like any word in the dictionary, your name has a definition. I want you to define that word for yourself. Don’t let society define it. Don’t let your peers define it. Don’t even let your parents define it, even though they most likely chose it for you. We are each gifted with a name, and while it may look or be pronounced the same as somebody else’s, remember that your definition is unique to you. I want you to think about the legacy you want people to associate with your name. Think about the qualities you want to be remembered by.

These past years here at Boston Prep were indeed a journey. As we all embark on the journeys to come in the future, I want you all to realize that when challenges and obstacles come your way, you are able to overcome them because you are a member of the Boston Prep Class of 2019.  That name - our name - means strength, it means courage, it means patience, and it means hope. These are the qualities that define us, and if this wasn’t true, then trust me, you wouldn’t be seated here right now.