Same name, different face

Danielle Toth

Identity mix-ups frequent

Matt Smith, freshman history major, has a very common name and is sometimes jumbled up in a name confusion. Smith said he had a hard time in high school with another Matt Smith who was always skipping class, but he always got called to the office.

Credit: Andrew popik

Junior early childhood education major Shannon Weiss looked forward to receiving her paycheck from the Student Credit Union over Christmas break.

But the check she received was not her own — it was one for a different Shannon Weiss, senior human development and family studies major, who worked on campus.

The second Weiss had gone to the credit union to pick up her check, found the checks had been mixed up and called the education major with the same name.

This happened two more times before education major Weiss decided to take matters into her own hands.

“It was frustrating at the time,” she said. “Now I put sticky notes on my envelope when I take it in asking them to please check the address before they give us our checks. Sometimes they’ll just pick up the first check they see and not check the address.”

With the recent attention focused on identity theft and protection of social security numbers, bank account numbers and credit card numbers, people sometimes forget the problems that can arise just from a name.

Matthew Smith, freshman history major, said he would like to have a more unique name to avoid mix-ups.

“There was one (another Matthew Smith) at my old high school, Cuyahoga Falls High School,” Smith said. “The other Matthew was the type that wouldn’t go to class and would skip, and I’d constantly get called down to the office for skipping because they mixed up names. It was rather frustrating.”

The commonality of “Smith” has caused more than a few mix-ups at the university.

“There are always a few Smiths in my classes,” said Amanda Smith, middle childhood education major. “My grades were mixed up with another student’s, showing that I had failed a test that I thought I did well on. It scared me at first until the teacher found that I really had an A, and he corrected my grade.”

Although names like “Smith” are common, these students find ways to remain unique.

Despite her name, Smith considers herself unique because she is mature for her age. She has morals, respect and high standards for herself, she said.

“I do think that as far as my name goes, I am less unique,” she said. “I never hear anyone say, ‘You have a pretty name.’ Usually people are like, ‘Oh no, another Smith.’ I don’t feel any less unique as far as my personality though.”

Other students find physical ways to make themselves unique.

“I try to sign my name different so that I stand out a little among the other Amanda Smiths,” said Amanda Smith, American sign language major. “I think everyone is unique no matter if there are millions of other people out there with the same name, but I try to dress unique in order to stand out.”

Although their names may not be unique, these students find their own identities.

“It doesn’t bother me that my name is common, because I’m unique and no other Amy Adams could be just like me,” said Amy Adams, junior accounting major and one of three with the same name in the student phone directory.

Contact features reporter Danielle Toth at [email protected].