In addition to the 22 men named John at Hillsdale, there are six Jonathans, one John Paul, one Johnny Cole, one Jon-Luke, and one Jon. The name of every male on the Student Activities Board, sophomore John Biscaro said, is some variation of John: sophomore John Ball, sophomore Jack Hall, and senior Ian Brown. Ian is Gaelic for John, and Jack’s given name is John.
The most popular names at Hillsdale are John, with 22 carrying the name; Hannah, appearing 20 times; and Andrew, Emma, and Jacob, which all appear 19 times. Other popular names include Jacob, Michael, Joseph, Matthew, Nicholas, Sarah, and Emily.
Several of these names are popular nationwide, but Hillsdale bucks certain national trends. Many of these students are namesakes to biblical or family figures.
The names John and Hannah have remained popular in recent years. In a 2017 article for The Collegian, Nic Rowan ’18 reported that John was the most popular name on campus with Hannah shortly behind.
Sophomore Andrew Szewc said there are always girls named Hannah in his classes.
One of the 20 Hannahs at Hillsdale, senior Hannah Molloy, said there are pros and cons to having such a popular name, but, at Hillsdale especially, the cons are strong.
“You hear your name everywhere and you think you’re going crazy,” she said. “It’s distracting sitting in A.J.’s and always hearing people call your name.”
Those with family names, including Szewc and Biscaro, said they plan on continuing the tradition with their children. Molloy said she has begun to like less common names because of her own experience with a shorter, more popular name.
The majority of Hillsdale students are between the ages of 18 and 22, with a large portion born in the early 2000s. According to the Social Security Administration, Hannah was the fifth most popular baby girl names for those born in the 2000s.
Throughout the 2000s, Emma was the third popular baby names for girls, and Andrew was the seventh for boys. John, despite being number one on Hillsdale’s campus, barely cracked the top 20.
For some, confusion arises when grouped with those with the same name. Andrew Szewc, for example, is in the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity with Andrew Nell. To avoid confusion, Nell goes by the nickname “Nelly.”
Szewc said he was named after his grandfather, and he plans to continue the tradition of family namesakes if he has a son in the future. He has observed that other Andrews at the college are named after the apostle Andrew from the New Testament.
Since Hillsdale College is a Christian school with a largely Christian student body, he thinks the biblical origin is what makes the name so popular.
John may be the most popular name for a similar reason, since John is one of the four Gospels in the New Testament.
Emma comes in second with 19 women bearing the name despite the fact that it doesn’t have biblical origins. Junior Emma Matheson said four girls named Emma lived in her dormitory hall freshman year.
The names Andrew and Emma are equally popular, and Szewc is glad his last name is unique as it balances out the commonality of the name Andrew.
“If I had a generic last name, then my name might get lost,” he said.
Many names, Szewc said, are both family traditions and biblical. And John has been one of the most popular names in the United States since its founding. In every decade from the 1880s until the ’90s, John was in the top 10 names given to males, and was number one until the ’20s.
The name John has history, and, in passing it down, families honor their familial and religious heritage.
“It is definitely a name passed down through heritage and now it’s not as much in style because it’s been around for so many generations,” he said. “There are so many figures, too, like John the Baptist.”
John was the 18th most popular baby name for boys born throughout the 2000s, according to the Social Security Administration’s data.
Despite confusion during his Student Activities Board meetings, sophomore John Biscaro doesn’t mind the popularity of his name, and said his heritage is more important to him.
“There are so many Johns in history, and I think that gives the name more honor.”