A woman, born Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck, is acing her goals regardless of the disposition her unique name may have put her in.
The 46-year-old reportedly graduated with a PhD in higher education leadership from Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin last month, defying all odds and push backs against her.
According to Vandyck, she refused to change her name to prove to herself and others that she can accomplish anything no matter the circumstances.
During an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Vandyck said her mother Maggie Johnson picked out her name when she was born and claimed it would take her around the world. She also revealed she has two sisters named Kimberly and Robin.
While many may believe her mom was mean for giving her daughter such a distinctive name, Vandyck actually credits her mother for helping her become a strong woman. “I've grown into my name because I am a strong woman. I've had to be,” she said.
Growing up, Vandyck says her name didn’t make it easy to get through grade school. “People make such a big deal out of it, I couldn't get away from it,” she told the newspaper.
Being bullied for her special name wasn’t the only challenge Vandyck faced as an adolescent. She reportedly left an unstable home when she was 15, graduated high school and went on to earn her undergraduate and master’s degree. Early on, her biggest educational goal was to earn her doctorate.
Vandyck currently works full-time at Beloit College, a liberal arts college in Wisconsin, and says despite her name she’s actually never smoked marijuana and doesn't drink Pepsi.
Vandyck has never met anyone else with her first name, but says she’d like to. She’s also an advocate for overturning non-violent drug offenses for those convicted.
"My main concern are the individuals serving time for marijuana-related offenses,” she said in a Journal Sentinel article from 2009. “I would like to see all their sentences overturned. These people were locked up for making money from the sale of marijuana, and now that the government has figured out ways to make the money themselves, it is 'legal' and, further, encouraged."
Photo: Nay Ni Ratn Mak Can Thuk / EyeEm