Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck

Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck (née Jackson) is an American educational professional. Vandyck earned her Ph.D. from Cardinal Stritch University in 2019 with a dissertation on uncommon black names in the classroom.[3][4]

Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck
Marijuana Pepsi Jackson

1972 (age 51–52)[1]
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin–Whitewater

Georgia Southern University

Cardinal Stritch University
Years active1994–present
EmployerBeloit College
Known forSociological study of uncommon black names in the classroom
Spouse(s)Sawyer (div)
Fredrick Vandyck
(m. 2017)
Children4 including 3 stepchildren
Parent(s)Maggie and Aaron Jackson

Early life and name


Marijuana Pepsi Jackson was born in 1972 to Aaron and Maggie (Brandy) Jackson, who chose her name. She lived in Chicago, Illinois until she was nine years old; then she moved to Beloit, Wisconsin to live with her mother after her parents separated.[1][2] She has two sisters, Kimberly and Robin.[2] She first realized her name was unusual at age nine.[5]

She said her mother told her "your name will take you around the world", and that her mother insisted on correcting a school spelling bee award certificate that read "Mary Jackson".[5] She described being bullied in high school over her name, crediting her family with helping her learn to embrace the name.[5]

She moved out of her mother's house at age 15, staying with friends and focusing on school. She graduated from Beloit Memorial High School in 1990 and received a scholarship for college at University of Wisconsin–Whitewater. She majored in education and became a teacher after graduation. While she was teaching elementary school in Atlanta, she studied for a masters degree at Georgia Southern, then returned to Beloit with her young son from her first marriage.[1]



Vandyck earned her bachelor's degree from University of Wisconsin–Whitewater.[1] After two semesters and a summer, she earned her master's degree from Georgia Southern University,[1] before earning her Ph.D. in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service in Higher Education from Cardinal Stritch University in May 2019.[2] Her dissertation, titled "Black names in white classrooms: Teacher behaviors and student perceptions,"[3][4] was inspired by prejudice she saw while working as a teacher. A co-worker had complained that her upcoming class would do poorly, based on the list of students with mostly "black-sounding" names.[5][6]



Having previously worked as a teacher, Vandyck currently directs a program for first-generation, disabled and low-income students at Beloit College, in addition to owning a Performance Coaching Agency.[2][6]

In the fall of 2019, Vandyck sponsored the Marijuana Pepsi Scholarship for first-generation African-American students at UW–Whitewater.[2]

Personal life


Vandyck was previously married to a Mr. Sawyer. The couple lived in Atlanta and had a son in the early 2000s. Their marriage ended in divorce and Vandyck returned to her hometown of Beloit, Wisconsin.[1]

As of 2019, Vandyck is married to Fredrick Vandyck. They live on a 3-acre (1.2 ha) farm in Pecatonica, Illinois, with her son and his three children from a previous relationship.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Stingl, Jim (March 7, 2009). "A woman named Marijuana plays it straight - and wins". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Gannett. Archived from the original on July 5, 2019. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Stingl, Jim (June 18, 2019). "Stingl: Yes, her name really is Marijuana Pepsi, and now she's Dr. Marijuana Pepsi to you". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Gannett Co. Archived from the original on June 21, 2019. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Folley, Aris (June 20, 2019). "A woman named Marijuana Pepsi earns doctoral degree with dissertation on uncommon names". The Hill. Archived from the original on February 21, 2021. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Amatulli, Jenna (June 20, 2019). "Woman Named Marijuana Pepsi Earns Ph.D With Dissertation On Uncommon Names". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on June 21, 2019. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Sini, Rozina (June 21, 2019). "Dr Marijuana Pepsi: The woman who refused to let her bullies win". BBC News. Archived from the original on June 22, 2019. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Andrew, Scottie; Ries, Brian (June 21, 2019). "She knows you think her name is different. But Dr. Marijuana Pepsi's work speaks for itself". CNN. Archived from the original on August 19, 2021. Retrieved July 6, 2019.