Saturday, April 17, 2021

Meet Dr. Marijuana Pepsi and Learn Why She Refused to Change Her Name

*Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck of Wisconsin is not letting her unusual name hinder her success. Matter fact, she says throughout her life, classmates made fun of her name, while teachers and employers urged her to get it changed — but she refused.

Now she’s Dr. Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck, after earning a doctorate last month, according to New York Post.

Her website, Action as Empowerment, notes that Marijuana Pepsi holds workshops, retreats, and life coaching sessions, and uses her story to empower women. Her name is also on a scholarship for first-generation African-American students in Wisconsin.

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“A firm believer in giving back to others, the Marijuana Pepsi Scholarship is an annual award for a first generation African American student enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater pursuing the completion of a Bachelor or Masters Degree in the College of Education & Professional Studies- with priority given to students graduating from her alma mater, Beloit Memorial High School in Beloit, WI,” the website says.

The Beloit, WI native has a “PhD in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service in Education, a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration, and a Bachelor’s degree in Education,” according to the site.

Heavy.com reports that it was Marijuana Pepsi’s mother who picked the unique moniker over her father’s objections. Her aunt noted that the parents “would cool off with a Pepsi…they were such fun-loving people that it suited them.”

Despite her name, Vandyck — who works full-time at Beloit College — said she has never smoked weed and doesn’t drink soda.

When she left her unstable home at age 15, she vowed to dedicate her life to proving folks wrong who formed wild opinions and judgements of her when they heard her name.

Marijuana Pepsi was determined to earn her PhD, insisting: “I’m going to be called Dr. Marijuana Pepsi.”

Even though she credits her mom with helping shape her entrepreneurial spirit, Vandyck advises against naming kids after marijuana. Her sisters, meanwhile, have relatively normal names, Kimberly and Robin.

“I’ve grown into my name because I am a strong woman. I’ve had to be,” she’s said

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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