Most of us get picked on for our names as children. One can only imagine what kind of torment Dr. Marijuana Pepsi faced as a child.

Despite whatever mockery she may have received, Dr. Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck will not change her name to make other people happy. Even as a child, she said that teachers would call her Mary.

“I think they wanted to make me feel more comfortable,” she explained. “They could see what the other children were doing, and they were trying to smooth the way and make things easier for me.”

Vandyck, 46, graduated from Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin recently with a doctorate in higher education leadership.

Ironically, her dissertation focused on unusual names and was titled, “Black Names in White Classrooms: Teacher Behaviors and Student Perceptions.”

Vandyck interviewed students and concluded that participants “with distinctly black names.”

“A lot of other people were thinking [my mom] was smoking marijuana and drinking Pepsi,” Vandyck told NPR. “In the black community, we’re used to having names that are more cultural.”

Regarding her mother she said, “She just shared that she felt a kinship with me and she felt like this name would take me around the world.”

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