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What it’s like to share a name with a presidential candidate

PhD student, Hillary Hadley and Donald McKenney, BHS'20, say they've gotten mixed reactions when people find out they share names with this year's presidential candidates. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. We’ve been hearing these names virtually every day for more than a year. But what happens when you share a name with one of the presidential candidates? We asked a few members of the Northeastern community to find out what it’s been like.

Editor’s note: The following responses have been edited lightly for clarity and length.

For some, it’s been a lifelong comparison that’s only intensified this past year.

Alyse Clinton, AMD’20:


Photo courtesy of Alyse Clinton

“I was born under a Clinton president, so even though I share no relation to that Clinton family, I get a lot of people asking me if I am related. For me, personally, people use it more as a joke. Whenever Hillary or Bill do something in the media, my friends will always ask how Cousin Bill or Cousin Hillary are doing. It’s always in good fun and I don’t really mind the teasing. My parents said that it started even before I was born because that was when the big scandal happened. People kept telling my mother to name me Monica. Even now, if you Google my name, you mostly get pictures of Hillary.

“I’ve never received anything negative, per say. Usually it’s just people asking if I’m related or if I’m going to vote either for or against Hillary because we share the same last name. That one does get a little annoying because most of the time I’m not really thinking about the fact that we have the same last name. Other than that, though, all of the attention I’ve received because I share the same name as a candidate is entirely positive. We joke about it and that’s kind of fun.”

Krystal Trump, S’13:

“It’s definitely something people comment on a lot. I’ve been paying more with cash (versus card) for about the past year—partially to work on budgeting, partially to avoid the questions; it gets old. Nothing overly good or overly bad has happened, mostly people just asking if we’re related or if I’m voting for him.

“It’s always been something people have commented on, asking if we’re related or if I’m rich. I used to use [Donald Trump] to make it easier to clarify my last name over the phone; I’ve stopped doing that.

“I’m in my second year of medical school. For selfish reasons, I’m hoping he loses the election so when I walk into a patient’s room I don’t automatically bring politics into the conversation when I say ‘Hi, I’m Dr. Trump and I’ll be taking care of you today.’”

Hillary Steele, MS’17:

Photo courtesy of Hillary Steele

Photo courtesy of Hillary Steele

“I have noticed that when I introduce myself many people do have something to say about my name. I am in my second year of the physician assistant program, and I would say at least three to four times a day a patient has something to say about my name. It’s a pretty even mix between positive and negative comments.

“Most of the time I don’t really mind the comments, but at times I find it frustrating that individuals make comments as soon as they hear my name without getting to know me. But at the same time I understand that Hillary is not the most common name and this is an election with a lot of emotion behind it. I have always had people comment on my name but

never as much as they do now.”

For others, the similarities are subtler.

Hillary Hadley, postdoctoral research associate:

“One thing I appreciate is that people are now more likely to spell my name correctly—with two L’s instead of one.

“The one instance I can recall that was kind of funny was when I was chatting with someone at a party about the election and he was talking at length about Hillary Clinton and whether she would be able to bring about policy change. At the end of our conversation, as we said our goodbyes he asked my name. When I told him ‘Hillary,’ he had a good laugh and I’m not sure whether he believed me.”

Donald McKenney, BHS’20:

“I haven’t had many experiences, as I’ve gone mostly by my middle name (Cole) up to high school.

“I don’t seem to be compared to him, as I am named after my father and grandfather, so if someone does happen to compare me to him I just don’t see it. Although, when most people realize my first name is Donald, they think that I look like him, solely based on my blond hair color.”

Benjamin Clinton, S’20:

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Clinton

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Clinton

“Once at an airport I was asked to give my full name. Upon hearing it, the clerk at the airport remarked that I had a very ‘presidential name.’

“Another time, I was out to dinner with my friend’s family in Texas, and her parents brought up politics during our dinner conversation. Coincidentally enough, I am voting for Hillary Clinton, so when they asked who I was voting for, I told them. We had a whole debate about Trump versus Hillary and eventually my friend brought up my last name, at which point her parents laughed and remarked that of course I would be voting for Hillary.”

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