American woman named Marijuana Pepsi becomes doctor

Dr Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck.
Dr Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck. Photo credit: Action As Empowerment.

Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck, a black American woman who gained attention for her unconventional name, has become a doctor after completing a dissertation on "black names in white classrooms".

For her whole life, Dr Vandyck has had her name judged and mocked by people, with past teachers and employers not wanting to call her 'Marijuana' and instead 'Mary', according to the Journal Sentinel.

Some people would ask her why she didn't change it while marijuana producers would try to connect with her over Linkedin.

"People make such a big deal out of it, I couldn't get away from it," said Dr Vandyck.

But she embraced it to show others that they don't have to conform to the norm and can achieve their dreams regardless of what others say.

Last month, she received a PhD in higher education leadership from Wisconsin's Cardinal Stritch University, officially becoming a doctor.

The dissertation topic was "Black names in white classrooms: Teacher behaviours and student perceptions". She found other black students had similar experiences to her own, being constantly quizzed about them by teachers.

She now works at a college helping students from low-income families or with physical disabilities, while also owning a performance coaching business.

Dr Vandyk told Journal Sentinel that she now introduces herself to students as Dr Marijuana Pepsi to get their attention.

"Regardless of what they do, say or what they're trying to put in place, you still have to move forward and succeed."

She tells them to use obstacles as stepping stones to get better and help others falling behind.

Following the reports this week that she had become a doctor, Twitter was flooded with positive comments congratulating her on her accomplishment.

"I am just so glad that Dr. Marijuana Pepsi exists and continues to succeed," said one user while another said: "More power to her."

"After I saw Marijuana Pepsi on my list, I was hoping they'd have actual Marijuana Pepsi available in Cali!  This is even more cool," said a user.