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Equity Lens: The Power of Names

“If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.” - Nonyem Aduba (Uzo Aduba’s mother)

Why are names important? Our name is our primary identity. Saying someone’s name in their original format is key in developing inclusive and welcoming spaces. It ensures respect from the first interaction, helps create instant rapport, fosters a sense of belonging, and builds lasting relationships. Research shows that mispronouncing students’ names can have a lasting impact.

In Gerardo Ochoa’s TedxTalk, he discusses his experience with his name and the Three (3) Kinds of Name-sayin’ which Jennifer Gonzalez coined, but also adds "Evader" to the list. Ochoa also shares how getting a name wrong cost one company over $14 billion. He then provides three tips for how to pronounce someone’s name.

As we start a new academic year, remember that you play a major role in making new trustees, new students, new faculty, and new staff feel welcomed and part of our community, and it starts with saying their names properly.

“A person’s name is to them the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” - Dale Carnegie

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