Senior honors grandmother

Zosha Skinner changes first name in memory of relative


Used with permission from Michael Skinner

Family ties: Senior Zosha Skinner enjoys time with her late great-grandmother Frances Maki. Zosha took her great- grandmother’s name after her passing to honor her and her Polish heritage.

Nicole Sanford

What was your name before and what is your name now?

I go by Zosha right now, and then the name before that I went by was Sophia, the name on my birth certificate.

How long ago did you change your name?

I changed my name just at the beginning of this (school) year — August or September.

Why did you change your name?

There are several different factors that came into choosing my name. One of them was that there’s a plethora of Sophias all over the place. (Also), my great-grandmother used to call me Zosha, and she recently passed away this last summer, and so in honor of her memory I’m going by Zosha, the name she used to call me. In addition to that, (Zosha) is also the Polish version of Sophia and my great-grandmother was Polish.

Are you planning on changing your name legally?

Yes, it just costs money, so I haven’t done it yet.

Have there been any challenges?

Not really, just with people who I’ve known for a really long time. I’m not going to get mad and throw a rampage if they don’t call me Zosha, but they’ve had a hard time because they’ve called me Sophia for years.

Was is a hard transition?

No, I was actually really surprised. I think it’s because there are so many people who go through changes with their gender that people are really used to transitioning with that type of name thing. So it was actually surprising to me that the switch over was so easy and everybody just respected that I was going by Zosha and started calling me by that name. It’s really cool.

Are you glad you changed your name?

I am glad that I changed it because I feel like it’s a name that really suits me. Your parents give you a name and then that name kind of is a container for who you are as a person for a really long time. I feel like both my brother and I chose to change our names, he now goes by Elliot instead of Sam and now I’m going by Zosha instead of Sophia, because I feel like it is a description of who you are as a person.

Were you surprised by how others reacted?

I was surprised by how others reacted. I thought it would be really difficult since I’ve been at this school for (over two) years now, (and) that it would be difficult for people to begin calling me Zosha. But it wasn’t difficult for anybody at all, everyone was very respectful and started using the name that I had suggested right away.

What is one of your favorite memories with your great-grandmother?

I got this book that was supposed to be all about her, so it had questions in it about her past. I sat with her for like half a day and just filled out this book and she told me all about her life growing up on a farm, and her parents and cousins and the games that she used to play.