Having an unusual name is both a blessing and a curse.
Sure it sets you apart from all the Tom Smiths and Sarah Browns who will never hit the first page of Google unless they become president or win an Oscar, but it also sets you up for a lifetime of answering dumb questions and dumber jokes.
It’s safe to assume that a Wisconsin woman named Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck has heard more than a few wisecracks about her name and been forced to explain it to many a puzzled conversation partner.
But instead of running from her unique name, Vandyck has embraced it by studying the effect and significance of names and now earning a Ph.d in higher education leadership from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee with a dissertation on the topic of rare names.
Titled “Black names in white classrooms: Teacher behaviors and student perceptions,” Vandyck’s dissertation explores the experience of black students who have uncommon names and how it affects their education.
Marijuana Pepsi,46, has spent her entire life embracing the name her mother gave her
She refused to change the unusual name in a bid to prove to herself that overcoming obstacles is possible
Now, the mother-of-one is officially Dr Marijuana Pepsi after earning her PhD .@stritchu pic.twitter.com/mjUf0pwIa6
— Parthiban Shanmugam (@hollywoodcurry) June 20, 2019
Though she has embraced it and is thriving it clearly hasn’t always been easy having such an unusual name. Vandyck told the†Milwaukee Journal Sentinal†that it was a constant topic in her life, saying: “People make such a big deal out of it, I couldn’t get away from it,” she said.
Vandyck’s mother gave her the name, saying it would “take her around the world” and she has never tried to change it. She told the Sentinal that, while she refuses to go by “Mary” she has occasionally used her initials to avoid annoyances.
“Sometimes, when she’s in a hurry, she uses the initials MP when she calls or encounters someone. That’s just to avoid the 15 minutes of inevitable questions about her name. She has used MP in the real estate business so that stoners don’t steal her signs.”
A businesswoman and college program director Vandyck hasn’t lost her sense of humor about it all, declaring years ago as a college freshman “I’m going to be called Dr. Marijuana Pepsi!”
Another challenge met…just don’t call it the Pepsi Challenge.
Thatís Dr. Marijuana Pepsi to you. https://t.co/imJFwtMsck
— Matthew A. Cherry ???? (@MatthewACherry) June 20, 2019