NPR

Dr. Marijuana Pepsi Won't Change Her Name 'To Make Other People Happy'

Long ridiculed for her unusual name, Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck recently turned her hardship into success. After studying perceptions around "black names" in white classrooms, she completed her Ph.D.
Dr. Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck graduated from Wisconsin's Cardinal Stritch University this month with a doctorate in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service. Source: Courtesy of Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck

Marijuana Pepsi's mother told her that her birth name would take her places.

She wasn't wrong.

After a life spent being mocked for having an unusual name, the 46-year-old seized on her experience to earn a Ph.D. in higher education leadership. Her dissertation focused on unusual names, naturally.

As of last week, Marijuana Pepsi is now Dr. Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck.

For herVandyck interviewed students and concluded that participants "with distinctly black names" were subject to disrespect, stereotypes and low academic and behavioral expectations. This resulted in strained relationships, changes in future career choices, and self-esteem issues, spelling fewer educational and economic opportunities for students of color.

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