Tattoos of KU

As tattoos become more and more streamlined into today's society, and less threatening to potential careers, college students are covering their bodies with their favorite quotes, memories, and even mascots. Tattoos often represent or commemorate something personal, and are therefore never given an explanation. Below, several KU students tell the stories behind their ink.

(photo credit: Jenna Drake)

Jenna is a junior at KU studying Applied Behavioral science. "I had a pretty rough summer in 2012. I was very depressed and down on myself and had nowhere to turn. A friend of mine was helping me through it all and told me that I was like a phoenix and I would rise."

(photo credit: Jenna Drake)

"My sister and I decided to get matching tattoos of a daisy because our only family pet we ever had was named Daisy. We had to put her down two years ago and to remember her, we got pretty daisies on our shoulders."

(photo credit: Morgan McTague)

Morgan is a junior studying Psychology with a minor in Women's Studies. "I got the word persevere to match my aunt who went through some major medical issues and taught me that you can persevere through anything. It's a constant reminder that when things get tough, I will always get through it."

(photo credit: Abbie Wenger)

Abbie is a junior in the pre-med program. "I don't think tattoos have to have a huge meaning. They can just be things you like; they don't have to be serious. I got this on an adventure with my best friend because I love cats!" (I was that best friend on that adventure. I think it's the cutest tattoo in the world). 

(photo credit: Erin Sullivan)

Erin is a senior studying Strategic Communications in Journalism. "When I was in eighth grade, my grandma passed away after fighting Alzheimer's for several years. At her funeral there were yellow roses everywhere because those were her favorite. At the end of the funeral each one of her grandkids got one the yellow roses as a keepsake. I was too young to realize how much that yellow rose really meant to me and after about a week of it sitting on my dresser, I finally just threw it away. It wasn't until later that year when I was helping my sister move I picked up an open box and on top there was an old yellow rose. It fell onto the ground when I was walking but since I didn't have a spare hand, I planned to let it lay there until I could set the box down. I came back outside to find the rose had been run over by a car and crumbled into a million pieces. My sister came up behind me, saw the rose, and immediately burst into tears, and I knew then I had made a huge mistake by throwing my rose away. By the time I was old enough to get a tattoo, getting a rose was a no-brainer."

(photo credit: Allison Leighann)

Allison is a senior studying English. "'Looking for Alaska" is my favorite book. It's extremely near and dear to my heart, and this quote is used in it. It's originally from a poem called "As I Walked Out One Evening" by W.H. Auden and, technically, the original quote doesn't have the 'all' in it. That, I added. Because, to me, this quote means that no one should judge anyone else. We are all sinners, and even if you're not a Christian, we are all still people. We all have to live on this planet, and we all have to deal with one another. I believe that no one has the right to judge anyone else, because no one has been in anyone else's situation. I know that I can't see this tattoo everyday, but I hope that others do."

(photo credit: Allison Leighann)

"If you know where it's from just from hearing the word, we can probably be best friends from now until the end of time. But if not, it's from "Harry Potter.""

Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears.

'After all this time?'

'Always,' said Snape.

You'll have to read the book to fully understand the context and why it's so important, but it is basically Snape's confession that he is still in love with Lily. He loved her more than I can imagine loving someone, and that's how I want my husband to love me and I him. Minus all the dark magic and death, of course. It's a reminder not to settle with someone who doesn't respect, love, and cherish me. Because there's someone out there who would."

See the rest of Allison's tattoos and their stories on her blog! -->

(photo credit: Jacey Bishop)

Jacey is studying Social Work at KU. "I got this tattoo at the beginning of my freshman year of college. The word freedom means so much to me because I used to feel trapped. I come from a hard background, and I always felt like I was destined to carry on with a life I didn't want because of this. This tattoo represents my freedom from that life. I made the decision that where I come from was not going to define who I become, and now I am living the life I always dreamed. The M on the end of 'freedom' breaks off the top into a bird, and I consider that as a symbol of myself.

The cross represents my journey with God. I have experienced a lot of loss early in my life. Friends and family kept dying every time I turned around, and for so long it made me hate God. I wanted nothing to do with a God that allowed this to happen. But one day, I realized that's the greatest gift God has bestowed upon us. He gave us freedom. We don't have to choose to know him, we don't have to believe, we don't have to do anything. He gave us this freedom to choose and find my own way. That's the kind of God I want to believe in."

(photo credit: Elena Cleaves)

My name is Elena and I'm a junior studying English and Dance at KU. This tattoo is my favorite of the three that I have because it carries the deepest meaning. Like Allison, I fell in love with John Green's "Looking for Alaska." The book's protagonist Pudge is obsessed with the last words of famous people before they die. the final line of the book says, "Thomas Edison's last words were: 'it's very beautiful over there.' I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere and I hope it's beautiful." About a month after I read this book, my oldest sister Tammy became very sick and was hospitalized for weeks. Her organs began to fail and she was too weak for heart surgery, so she was placed in hospice care to live out her final days in peace and comfort. The grief was unbearable, and I struggled coming to terms with it. I've never been much of a religious person, and I had no idea what my beliefs in life after death were. I learned from my middle sister MacKenzie that one day, she and Tammy had gone to a psychic. The psychic told Tammy that in her past life, she was an angel, and in her purest form. She was then brought back to Earth for her second life, this life, to be an example to the world of how hard life could be. Tammy struggled with a drug addiction most of her life, and the psychic reading was spot on. This story comforted me, and made me consider the idea that while her physical body may be gone, her spirit is not. I don't know where she is now, but I believe she is somewhere, and I hope it is beautiful.

(photo credit for cover photo: Steven Sweeny)