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Tattoos for extra credit

Caterpillars, moths, bees and other bug-related tattoo requests from NMSU students are nothing out of the ordinary for local tattoo shops. As part of a semester project, an entomology professor at NMSU offers points for getting insect-related tattoos. 

The idea to get insect-related tattoos for class credit came from Scott Bundy, an NMSU professor teaching a class called Insects, Humans and the Environment. Students gain 30 points for pre-existing insect tattoos, but they can receive 50 points for getting a new one during the semester. The optional opportunity to gain credit has been offered to students since 2018. 

NMSU student Danielle Ramirez sits for a new butterfly tattoo Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, at Sun City Tattoo shop in El Paso, Texas. (Video by April Borjon/Kokopelli)

“A few years ago, a student said ‘I want to get this insect tattoo’ and they asked if they could do it for their project,” Bundy said. “It was kind of surprising how many students wanted to do it when I offered points.” 

Undergraduate student Danielle Ramirez booked an appointment to get a butterfly tattoo at the beginning of this month. 

“I’ve been wanting to get this tattoo for a while now,” Ramirez said. “When I saw that we can get so many points for getting a tattoo, I told myself this must be a sign to push through and get it.” 

Located on her wrist, the body of the butterfly tattoo is replaced with a semicolon; representing hope and remembrance of past struggles with suicide, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. 

NMSU student Danielle Ramirez shows off a brand new butterfly tattoo on her wrist Oct. 6, 2022, at Sun City Tattoo shop in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by April Borjon/Kokopelli)

“When I was in middle school and high school, I struggled with self-harm,” Ramirez said. “I didn’t want to live anymore, but I made it through.” 

Aside from being a symbol of overcoming self-harm, the tattoo also represents her deceased great-grandmother with whom she used to chase butterflies, according to Ramirez.

“I like it when students get insect tattoos that have personal meaning,” Bundy said. “It’s really nice when there’s some kind of importance put on it, and it’s not just a pretty bug.”

The Irish Ink Tattoo parlor near campus has received over 50 bug-related tattoo requests from students within the past few months according to owner Jamie Wallace. 

“I think this class idea is brilliant,” Wallace said. “Anything like this that engages the students in a subject is so smart.” 

After students revealed the reasoning behind all the bug tattoos, Wallace decided to offer a discounted rate for all insect-related body art.

Irish Ink Tattoos, located on Lohman Avenue, offers discounted bug-related tattoos to NMSU students and faculty. (Photo courtesy of Irish Ink Tattoos)

“College students are normally broke,” Wallace said. “We wanted to give them a break, so now we offer each bug tattoo for $50.” 

According to Bundy, local tattoo artists have reached out to him in order to share their promotional flyers with students.

“Even though I don’t endorse any specific tattoo shop,” Bundy said, “Irish Ink is definitely the one place that has made a lot of effort with NMSU students.”

Along with Ramirez, multiple other students in Bundy’s class have already begun getting tattoos for their class projects. 

“I love my tattoo,” Ramirez said. “It was kind of painful, but overall it was a good experience.” 

Irish Ink Tattoos is available for walk-in appointments or can be contacted at (575) 652-3969. 

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