A mother naming her daughter Marijuana Pepsi? One is left wondering why on earth would a mother pick such a name so out of the ordinary when she could have picked something less complicated.
Growing up, Marijuana Pepsi could not hide from the constant teasing, especially in junior high. Although she kept questioning why her mom gave her such an odd name whereas her sisters were named Kimberly and Robin she refused to change it. Roll calls were her worst nightmare.
“Every single class, the teacher is taking attendance out loud, and as they slowly get down through the J’s, I’m just like here it comes. ‘Marianna? Marijuana?’ And all the students turn to see who it is,” she said.
But her mother had her reasons. Apparently, she believed her name would take her places and indeed she was right about it. The 46-year-old is happily married to her husband Fredrick Vandyck and they have four children her 16-year-old son, as well as three children and a grandchild.
She got used to the teasing and used it to her advantage. Pepsi went ahead and dedicated her thesis on the topic: “Black names in white classrooms: Teacher behaviours and student perceptions.” In her dissertation, she spoke with other Black students who had unique names. They also opened up about those tense moments when teachers would pause on their names during roll call.
Today, she is proud to call herself Dr Marijuana Pepsi as she now holds a PhD in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service in Higher Education after graduating from Wisconsin’s Cardinal Stritch University in May. In a way, she thanks her mother, and she admits her name somehow moulded her into a strong woman.
“I’ve grown into my name because I am a strong woman. I’ve had to be,” she said.
She noted that she wanted to prove to the world that despite having a rather unique name, she could make it in life, and no, she doesn’t smoke and love of soda that much.