Tat-Tuesday: Students share stories behind their ink

Justin Jones

Editor's note: Tat-Tuesday is a weekly series that features students around campus and their tattoos.

Olivia Kean

Though public health and biology junior Olivia Kean has not lived near her best friend for just over a decade, their bond is so strong that Kean has a symbol of their friendship tattooed on her side. 

“It’s a spin-off of an Irish symbol called the Claddagh,” Kean said. “My best friend of 12 years lives in Ireland, and I used to go stay with them every year, so they’re like my other family.”

Traditionally, the Claddagh is an Irish ring which symbolizes trust and friendship. Kean and her best friend use it to represent their bond and their shared Irish heritage. 

After becoming friends in elementary school, the two use social media to stay connected and meet once a year to celebrate their uncommon relationship.

“It shows commitment and loyalty,” Kean said. “She’s a stable point. When things are changing, she’s still there.”

Lauren Ponce

In the face of hardship, English and sociology junior Lauren Ponce’s mother showed resilience. Time and time again, she was placed in tough situations and emerged with a relentlessly positive attitude, which motivated her daughter to get a tattoo to honor her.

“It says resilient, (and) I always used that word to describe my mom,” Ponce said. “It inspires me to be really positive and to help out.”

Ponce’s mother endured a rough divorce and custody battle, and Ponce said she is really all her mother has left. Through her pain, Ponce’s mother continues giving back to her community by teaching music and showing people love.

“A lot of times she gives back to her students,” Ponce said. “I guess she’s making up for what she’s missing and tries to make sure other people get the love they deserve.”

Zach Cunyus

The tattoo on the arm of English junior Zach Cunyus is the official logo of author Kurt Vonnegut. To Cunyus, Vonnegut’s balance of multiple writing styles represents the nature of life, which he finds meaningful.

“I like the juxtaposition between highbrow and lowbrow in his works,” Cunyus said. “It’s the best means of expressing the existential nature of life. It provides a more profound meaning.”

By telling dirty jokes and questioning humanity in equal measure, Vonnegut and his writing connect deeply with Cunyus. His symbol is even born from one of these jokes from his book intended as shorthand for a butthole.

“In light of the nature of current events and humanity as a whole, that combination of sentimentality and cynicism displays a humanist leaning, which is very reaffirming,” Cunyus said. “It’s so easy to get bogged down in how people are.”