What’s in a name: DV students and administrator share names and stories


Megan Tsang

While entirely different people, sophomore and senior Rachel Liu’s also have much more in common than just their names.

Sarah Kim and Megan Tsang


It was Thursday Access period, and we had the two Rachel Liu’s sitting cross-legged across from us on the hallway floor. Even at first glance, their differences were glaringly apparent.

Senior Rachel Liu was dressed in comfortable sweats and a windbreaker. Sophomore Rachel Liu had her hair pulled up into a bun, her feet clad in leather boots. As we delved deeper into their backgrounds, the distinct characteristics that define either individual came into sharper focus.

Senior Rachel began, “I’m friends with most of the Rachels I know … So I was really surprised about you, because I didn’t know there was another Rachel Liu.”

Sophomore Rachel recalled how she had first discovered the existence of the other Rachel.

“I got some of your emails before. People don’t know which Rachel to pick,” Sophomore Liu said.

Not only do these two students share the same name, but they also share the same inspiration — their parents were fans of “Friends” and of a particular girl next door, Rachel Green.

But while sophomore Liu has never even watched the show, senior Liu had more of a connection to the character: “In some ways I’m like her. I know what I want … I think it’s pretty cool. She’s hot, right?”

To senior Liu, the middle name that she was given as a toddler holds more meaning than her first name.

“My middle name is Jing … which means like “quiet” in Chinese,” senior Liu explained. “Apparently I was really loud as a child, so [my mother] wanted me to be quiet.”

A second later she started screaming about her love for Gothic books, then laughed at the irony.

They also shared another quality — they both have older brothers that are two years older than them.

When asked what it’s like to be the younger sibling, senior Liu responded, “You get your way sometimes.”

The sophomore agreed, “A lot of the time, especially when I was younger.”

But that’s where the similarities ended. Sophomore Liu is soft-spoken and calm, senior Liu is self-described as “crazy” and “ratchet.” Sophomore Liu is a Hufflepuff, senior Liu is a mix of Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Sophomore Liu hates math, while senior Liu is majoring in applied math. Sophomore Liu described herself as “allergic” to sports, while senior Liu has been playing soccer for 13 years.

Perhaps the contrast in personalities come from the name itself.

Sophomore Liu explained, “Rachel is a really common name in general. So I guess it would make me want to stand out more as a person.”

The 15-year-old feels that art is what makes her unique. She’s been taking art lessons since she was 10 years old.

Despite their differences, senior Liu ended the interview noticing one commonality: “Well, apparently I’m a loser. So yeah, we’re both ‘Liu’-sers.”

Sarah Kim
Despite their differences, Officer and senior Katie Williams both love traveling.


“My mom was like, ‘Why would I name her Catherine if I’m just going to call her Katie?’” Officer Katie Williams, the School Resource Officer at Dougherty, said with a laugh. As we chatted with her, she expressed an apathetic attitude about her name.

But for senior Williams, her name has been more of a burden. She explained that people often misspell her full name and that she herself finds the name “boring” and overly “religious.”

“It’s not that unique or creative, so it’s not my favorite name,” she said.

And this isn’t the first time she’s had a name doppelganger. As a student at Gale Ranch Middle School, she shared a moniker with the school librarian; they even had the same birthday. In both middle school and high school, Williams has received slips and emails intended for the administrators she shares a name with. And the reverse is also true.

“My friends would actually share all their presentations and stuff with [the librarian] instead of me,” Williams said.

“I’ve gotten a couple of emails about class projects,” Officer Williams confirmed with a nod.

Officer Williams describes herself as extroverted and athletic. When she was younger, she played every sport she could — often as the only girl on the team. Her background in athletics has helped her keep up with the physical demands of her work as a police officer.

For the senior Williams, it isn’t her name that creates a first impression, but her personality. Because of her monotone voice, people have given her the nicknames “Debbie Downer” and “Eeeyore,” like the animated donkey from “Winnie the Pooh.” In reality though, Williams is just reserved.

“I’m actually kind of introverted. Like, the second I feel slightly uncomfortable, I just don’t talk,” she explained.

The side of Senior Williams that people don’t get to see is her fulfilling her job at Starbucks, where she works as a trainer for three to four shifts per week.

When asked to describe herself, she said, “I like to always improve and be moving towards a goal, that’s how I function.”

Outside of school and work, Williams is also a big animal lover; she has two cats and a dog.

“I hate pets,” Officer Williams said in contrast.

While the pair had several differences, they share a history of traveling.

For senior Williams, her trips were to visit family in New York and Florida over summers.

Officer Williams was born in New York but lived all across California. Since graduating high school, Williams has moved five times.

Reflecting on her journey, Williams said, “Each time was an improvement, a better step.”