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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Inked with meaning

Hawks tell the stories behind their tattoos

This is the first installment in an ongoing series about student tattoos. Look out for more “Inked with meaning” stories in the Nov. 30 issue of The Hawk.

 

Luigi Nuñez, ’17

Luigi Nuñez has known he wanted a tattoo since he was in high school, but he never knew what to get.

“They’re a really cool way to show the things you value. Kind of like art, but it’s always with you,” he said.

It was not until he came to St. Joe’s, however, that he realized what the perfect tattoo would be.

Nuñez has the letters “AMDG” tattooed on his left bicep. The letters represent the Jesuit principle Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, which translates from Latin to “For the Greater Glory of God.”

Though Nuñez went to a Catholic high school, he did not know about the Jesuits until he came to St. Joe’s.

“Their ideals and values shaped me to try and be a better person to serve and help others,” he said.

When asked why specifically AMDG impacted him over the other Jesuit principles, he said, “AMDG pushes me to do better in the world. I just think there’s something more global for the ‘greater glory,’ rather than just ‘do more.’”

Nuñez told his mother prior to getting the tattoo, but did not tell his father, who found out by accident at dinner one night.

“He grabbed my arm at dinner and was like, ‘What is that on your arm?’ and I was like, ‘It’s a tattoo!’” Nuñez recollected. “I think it [his reaction] was more of the shock—he wasn’t expecting me to get one. He understands once it happens, it happens. You can’t change it.”

 

Conor Neville, ’18

Conor Neville’s tattoo is located on his right shoulder blade and is a replication of the Celtic cross necklace that he wears every day. The necklace is a family heirloom that has been passed down from his grandfather, to his father, and finally to him. Neville believes it is very important to represent his heritage and is glad to do so by wearing the necklace and having the tattoo.

“Tattoos are not what they meant 50 years ago,” he said. “If it was 50 years ago, you were either a sailor or a convict. Now we’re told we’re special and we should represent ourselves and they’re more about a statement of who we are, tattoos are a statement of self-expression… It’s about displaying art on the most precious canvas, your own skin, and expressing who you are as a person.”

Neville is not the only one with this tattoo, however. Neville and his father both got the same tattoo together, in the same place on their bodies, and at the same time, in August of 2015. Neville’s father was diagnosed with brain cancer this past July, so he is happy to have something that bonds him and his father together.

“Having that bond with him and having that bond with God is very important to me,” he reflected. “It’s a really nice, comforting symbol to carry with me. I’m connected to God, and I’m connected to my father, and I’ll always have that no matter what happens.”

Neville admitted that his parents were not always approving of tattoos.

“[My father] and my mother have always been very anti-tattoos because their generation is very different from ours,” Neville said. “My father was on board. My mother took a bit of convincing. I wasn’t going to do it without her being OK with it… Once my father and I explained to her what it meant, what it would be, she was OK with it. Also it made my sister want to get a tattoo as well, so it affected the whole family.”

 

Diana Cunningham, ’18

Diana Cunningham’s tattoo may be small, but its significance is anything but. Her tattoo is located on the left side of her lower ribcage. She got it the summer of 2014, right after her senior year of high school. Cunningham’s parents were adamant about her not getting a tattoo, but eventually gave her their permission, as long as the tattoo would not be visible. Her parents were concerned because they believed that people with tattoos are discriminated against when it comes to finding a job.

“I had to fight for this tattoo,” Cunningham said. “I didn’t get it, then show them [right away]. I [also] don’t want a job where I can’t be tattooed.”

Another one of her parents’ concerns was the permanence of tattoos, though that is what Cunningham loves the most about them.

“Some people don’t find them aesthetically pleasing, but I do,” she said with a smile. “I like how they look. I like that they’re permanent. I know that’s a drawback for a lot of people, but I like it. I like that your body becomes a canvas and you can change it.”

Her tattoo is of the Roman numerals II and XIII, with the two on top and the 13 on the bottom. The tattoo symbolizes and reminds her of her biological family in the Philippines. Cunningham was adopted from the Philippines when she was 10 months old.

“The two is for my parents. On the adoption report, it said I had 13 older siblings,” she said.

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