Woman Named Marijuana Pepsi Refuses to Change Names & Just Got Her PhD

Monica Otayza
Jun 21, 2019
10:07 A.M.
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A girl named Marijuana Pepsi was bullied all her life for being named after a drug and a sugary drink, but this did nothing but motivate her to continue to do well and eventually get her doctorate degree. 


46 years ago, an innocent little girl was named "Marijuana Pepsi Vandyk" by her parents. She would grow up not being taken seriously by her peers because of this name, but instead of holding her back, it actually motivated her to do well. 


Rising from Adversity

Despite being named "Marijuana," a drug that sometimes makes a person idle instead of productive, this lovely woman actually lived a pretty eventful life. Now a Ph.D. holder, she works at Beloit College as the director of a program that aims to help first-generation enrollees, those who come from low-income families, and those who have learning or physical disabilities. 


Aside from her full-time job, she also owns Action as Empowerment, a performance coaching business that does retreats and workshops for people who want to change their lives. Sometimes, she also works as a real estate agent. 

Learning the Value of Hard Work early

At 15 years old, she left home and tried to make something out of her life. While she acknowledges that her name is so unique and people make such a big deal out of it, she didn't actually let it stop her from living life to the fullest. 


While people pushed her to go to court to change her name or even nickname her "Mary," she would reject it and ask to be called "Marijuana." 

Seeing the good side of things

 Instead of seeing it as something negative, Marijuana thanked her mom for giving her such an odd name to give a woman, as it made her the strong woman that she is today. 

Now, she is living proof that you can overcome any challenge, especially ones that haunt you every single day if you take everything as motivation or a learning experience.