A woman named Marijuana Pepsi earns doctoral degree with dissertation on uncommon names

A woman named Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck earned her Ph.D. from Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin with the help of her dissertation, titled: “Black names in white classrooms: Teacher behaviors and student perceptions.” 

Vandyck, who was born Marijuana Pepsi Jackson 46 years ago, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an interview published Wednesday that she was inspired to choose her dissertation topic on unique black names after living through her own fair share of experiences with her name. 

{mosads}”People make such a big deal out of it, I couldn’t get away from it,” she told the paper. 

Vandyck, who earned her doctoral degree in higher education leadership last month, said she asked black students with similarly unique names at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where she earned her bachelor’s degree, about how they were treated differently than other students by teachers.

She said a number of students she interviewed each reported different treatment from their teachers. One experience Vandyck said she and the other students shared was being singled out by a teacher for their names during class attendance. 

Vandyck recalled her experience being called out by a teacher at Whitewater in the interview.

“I’m sorry,” Marijuana remembered saying in response to the professor. “You didn’t ask anyone else that. Why are you asking me? My name is Marijuana, thank you.”

Though Vandyck works full time at Beloit College as the head of a program that helps first-generation college students and those from low-income backgrounds, she said she is also considering working as a professor after earning her doctoral degree.

And, despite her name, Vandyck set the record straight that she doesn’t partake in marijuana use and she barely drinks soda.

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