A recent social event included a few people I hadn’t met. “This is Liz Jansen,” said the host, introducing me to a woman sitting at the end of a sofa.
“Ah, Jansen,” she said. “Danish!”
Names tell us much about a person. Or do they?
Our parents name us at birth with expectations of how they see us and who we’ll become. It doesn’t take long before we pick up on that. Starting around age two, we perpetuate that image, tempered by our own sense of self. Names become a major influence in shaping who we are.
Names also conjure up images and stereotypes in others we interact with. Professor Liz Jansen (see below) pointed out there’s literature on professors’ grading biases based on names on exams. (Biased) Grading of Students’ Performance: Students’ Names, Performance Level, and Implicit Attitudes
Curious, I Googled my name. There are more than 100 Elizabeth Jansens on LinkedIn alone. That doesn’t include the sixth-grade student at Roxbury Central School named to the second-quarter honor roll.
We share a name, yet the answers to Who am I? and Why am I here? differ for each of us.
In the interests of brevity, and because you’re likely familiar with my story, I’ve linked to it here. I also haven’t included my grandmother Elizabeth Jansen, a.k.a. Liese. Read her story of courage and character in Crash Landing.
This post is dedicated to three other Elizabeth Jansens. We share a name and we’re all white women. (I’d love to meet an EJ from a different race.) Our lives are unique. My deep gratitude to each one for sharing their story.
PS: Not a Dane amongst us!
Elizabeth and I met through LinkedIn at least a decade ago, attracted by our name and love of motorcycles.
I live in Hubbard, Oregon, in a farming community, amongst hop and hazelnut orchards. It is a lovely spot to call our home.
I am married and have two daughters, one son, a son in law, a daughter in law, and three grandkids. We are very lucky. My brother, mom, and dad all live in Washington State and we love getting together as a family. My husband and I have been married for 2 1/2 years.
My parent immigrated from the Netherlands in 1960. My brother and I were born in the United States. We didn’t speak Dutch in our household so my brother and I did not learn the language, just enough to figure out what my parents were talking about around Christmas time!
I am a mortgage banker with a local credit union. I have been in banking most of my life and love what I do. I help our members achieve their goal of home ownership by putting together a financial plan, advising them on different loan programs, answering questions about their credit reports, and advising them when they are ready to make an offer on a home. My goal is to be their home loan banker for the rest of their lives. I am also there if they need to refinance to cover remodeling or college expenses. I have the honor of helping people make one of the most important purchases in their life.
I love music and play the guitar and some African Djembe drum. I am passionate about photography and love to take off on long weekend trips with my husband and our motorcycles. I also love art, reading, and taking long hikes in the beautiful Oregon scenery.
My core values are fun, freedom, and responsibility. That is why my job is so perfect for me. I love the freedom of being able to set my own schedule. It’s a bit like running my own business. I love the adventure of helping my customers put together their financial loan requests, which can be like putting together a complicated puzzle. And I love the responsibility of making sure the needs and deadlines of both customers and the bank are met.
And then, I love being able to take time off to have fun and adventures with my husband and family. We like to head out without reservations or a specific destination. We enjoy spending time meandering through the beautiful countryside, exploring new restaurants, and visiting old favorites.
Family is the most meaningful thing in my life. I cherish time spent with my college-age daughter. Watching her grow into an amazing human has been one of the most humbling and wonderful experiences. I love spending time walking through life with my husband. The way we have built our new life together has been wonderful. As we learn to live together as husband and wife, we are falling into a rhythm and making new memories. I like to call it the dance of marriage.
Links: Onpoint Employee Spotlight
Elizabeth (Liz) Jansen
A few times someone looking for Liz has contacted me and vice versa. A little homework would have prevented that, but then we wouldn’t have met!
I live just outside of St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, and grew up in this area. With the exception of a year in Colorado, I have lived here all my life.
I am married and have three children in their late teens/early 20s. Watching my kids grow and become who they are is my greatest joy. I am of predominantly Irish heritage.
I am a college professor at Macalester College, a small liberal arts college in St Paul.
My PhD is in neuroscience and my research has focused on neural plasticity (the brain’s abilities to change in development and in response to experience and injury). My PhD is in neuroscience and my research has focused on neural plasticity (the brain’s abilities to change in development and in response to experience and injury)
I love to read, travel (have visited Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia), many outdoor activities (skiing, biking, hiking, rollerblading) and playing with my kids. I am a huge fan of folk music (especially Bob Dylan and John Prine) and love seeing live music (especially outdoors). What drives me? I feel privileged to teach at Macalester where the students come from around the country and around the world and are bright, interesting, and eager to learn.
I try and make the world a better place in a small way by trying to be a positive force, supporting young people, and teaching about the beautiful and amazing world of biology.
I have never driven a motorcycle but I love to ride on the back of them!
Links: Macalester College Faculty
I found Elizabeth through my Google search and am humbled and inspired by her energy and resilience.
I grew up in New Canaan, CT, am of Scottish, British, German descent, and currently live and work in Boston, MA. I have a mom, dad, and an older brother, Robert, who is/was 2.5 years older than me. Unfortunately, he was killed in 2012 in a rockslide while climbing out in Colorado. I am also married to Kyle, my husband of 8 months.
My major in college was Chinese Studies, and I studied abroad in Shanghai during my college year, which is actually where I met my husband! (He was also studying abroad there). I love languages, especially Mandarin.
I am a Pre-K teacher and have been teaching for 6 years. My first year I worked in a 1st grade classroom and also taught middle school Mandarin. I then got a job teaching Pre-K and absolutely love the age! I also started my own running coaching business in summer 2018 called ‘Strongest Self’. I am an avid runner and am passionate about helping others become stronger runners and reach their goals.
My passion is running. When Robert was killed in August 2012, I was very sad and didn’t know how to process his death. I was already suffering from a Binge Eating Disorder and put all my attention on my school work (I was a senior in college). I would suppress my feelings with food and didn’t take care of myself. I started running and realized how much better I felt after a run. Slowly but surely, I began running and ended up losing 25 pounds and getting in the shape I’ve always wanted to be in. Now I am a 14x marathoner and run in Robert’s memory. (#Run4Rob). My dream is to qualify for the World Marathon Majors and qualify for the Olympic Trials.
The love I have for my brother, my family, running, and believing in myself drive me. I have proven to myself over and over again that I am so much stronger than I ever thought I was—physically, mentally, and emotionally. I am recovering from my eating disorder as well as PTSD. My goals for running are so big and they set my heart on fire.
My family and my health are most meaningful in my life. They mean everything to me and are my biggest supporters and cheerleaders. They also come to my races and cheer me on whether it’s sunny or raining. I am so happy I took control of my life and got healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally. I want to be running as long as I can and have it be a lifelong sport.
You can do anything you dream you can do. Not long ago, I couldn’t run over three miles and now I’m a 14x marathoner with dreams I never even knew I could reach. Be patient with yourself and with your goals, and don’t give up. Consistency and a little work every day will take you places. I am hoping to grow my run coaching business and make it my full-time job eventually.
Running for Robert Blog
What stories do you have about your name? Leave them in the comments.