A woman called Marijuana Pepsi has proved her bullies and critics wrong by successfully earning her PhD and becoming a doctor.
Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck faced criticism over the name her mother gave her for her entire life, but she was determined to embrace it and succeed in life.
Despite being told by many people she ought to change her name for the sake of her profession, Marijuana refused to do so in a bid to prove that overcoming any obstacle is possible.
Now, she’s officially Dr. Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck, gaining her PhD in higher education leadership from Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin last month.
The mum-of-one told Milwaukee Journal Sentinel how her mum Maggie Johnson chose her name when she was born and declared it would take her around the world. Her two sisters are named Kimberly and Robin.
Despite the criticism her mum has received for the name, Marijuana credits her mother for helping her become the woman she is today.
She told the Journal:
I’ve grown into my name because I am a strong woman. I’ve had to be.
Marijuana left an unstable home when she was 15, before successfully graduating high school and going on to earn her college and master’s degree.
The 46-year-old’s classmates always made fun of her name growing up, and teachers and bosses even tried to persuade her to change it, but she refused.
‘People make such a big deal out of it, I couldn’t get away from it,’ she said.
Judging by a previous social media post, the mum-of-one always knew she’d go on to earn her PhD. In a Facebook post, she wrote: ‘I’m going to be called Dr Marijuana Pepsi.’
Marijuana wrote about her experiences in her dissertation topic, titled: Black names in white classrooms: Teacher behaviors and student perceptions.
She interviewed students who had similar experiences in her thesis, who also said educators would quiz them on their names through their education.
Now Marijuna, who says despite her name she’s never smoked weed or drank Pepsi, works full-time at Beloit College, a liberal arts college in Wisconsin.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.