Michigan Alumnus asked alumni via its Facebook page, “Do you have a unique uniqname?” Nearly 100 alumni shared humorous and heartfelt stories behind their U-M user name.
Harrison Clifford, ’15
After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and at American embassies for several years, I was used to being assigned the old “first initial, last name” for a login. So when I was accepted to my dream school and offered the chance to choose my own login, I was doubly excited! When I was prompted to come up with a login between four and eight letters, I began to brainstorm and thought “How about ‘Michigan’?” I typed it in. Taken. Dang! I thought again, “What other word or words describe this university community so well?” As I searched the internet for inspiration, it hit me. “HAIL!” I got “Hail@umich.edu.”
Bridget Sharphorn, ’95
It was 1992-93 and we had NO idea how long these uniqnames would last. The recommendation was use your first initial and last name, but “bsharphorn” did not fit the eight-letter rule and “bsharpho” did not appeal to me. My best friend and I had a tradition of using rock star names as our return address name on actual mail. I had just sent a letter with the return name “Grace Slick,” so I used that name. I spent the next decade as “Gslick” with people thinking it was “G. S. Lick.”
Maren Christiansen Wallenberg, ’01
I took the one they suggested/assigned to me. My middle name is Rosa, so they gave me “Mrchrist.” At least it was easy for others to remember my email address!
Cara Cerullo, ’95
Apparently, I was the first Cara to have a uniqname, so mine is just “Cara.” Over the years, I have received a LOT of messages intended for other Caras. I write back to let people know they’ve reached the wrong person, and I’m shocked at how seldom people respond.
Zoheb Khan, MSE’07
When I found out I got into U-M, my late grandfather was so proud, he mentioned it the next day at a conference he was chairing in front of over 2,000 people. At a celebratory dinner that evening, I told him I was struggling with coming up with my uniqname. He thought long and hard and at the end of the meal, my grandfather said, “I’ve got it. It should be Zohebdua.” It clicked. He reminded me how my entire family’s “dua,” or “prayers” in Arabic, had helped me get into U-M. That reminder still humbles me: no matter what we might achieve in life, it took someone’s faith, love, and prayer to get us there.
Jeni Verplank, ’02
I chose mine because when I was young my brother used to call me Susan. I was irritated by that and would yell, “My name is NOT Susan!” So, when we had to choose names he suggested I pick “NotSusan.” So I did!
Alexandra Brown, ’17
My uniqname is “Alexbro.” When you have a very common name, it can be so hard to find a uniqname! “Abrown,” “Alexb,” “Aebrown,” etc. were all taken, of course. When I came up with “Alexbro” and it was not taken, I laughed at how fun it was. People know me as “Alexbro” to this day. It’s even my license plate.
Colt Rosensweig, ’09
Mine was “Tgsontop” for the great Ernie Harwell’s trademark phrase when the Tigers were winning—“Tygs On Top!” Dan Dickerson, another Tiger sportscaster, sometimes says it too.
Jillian Weber, ’05
Mine is “Senorita.” I think I was the only one in my class who read the email saying it should be fun and unique. First day of classes, they passed the roster around with lists of first-name-last-name combos and mine definitely stood out. People always asked how I got it, but all I did was follow the instructions.
Shaun Dass, ’14, MBA’19
When I chose my uniqname, I never imagined how large an impression it would have. You see, my name is Shaun Arun Dass, and the suggested uniqname format was first initial, middle initial, and last name. You can do the math and see that just wasn’t going to cut it for an 18-year-old entering college. Unfortunately, all other variants of my name were taken. Struggling, I thought back to all my experiences around U-M and realized that each time I visited—whether it was for a game, a dinner, or to see a friend—I’d always say “I’m visiting U-M.” Instantly it clicked, and I chose “UofMdass” as my uniqname (and snagged the corresponding gmail account). It was a bonus when I returned for business school. I know that I’ll be “UofMdass” for life and wouldn’t change it for the world.