Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck
Early life and name
Marijuana Pepsi Jackson grew up in Chicago, Illinois and Beloit, Wisconsin. She has two sisters, named Kimberly and Robin. She first realized her name was unusual at nine years old. 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". She described being bullied in high school over her name, crediting her family with helping her learn to embrace the name.
Vandyck was "most improved student" at her high school graduation. She earned a bachelor's degree from University of Wisconsin–Whitewater and a Master's degree from Georgia Southern University, before earning her Ph.D. in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service in Higher Education from Cardinal Stritch University in May 2019. Her dissertation, titled "Black names in white classrooms: Teacher behaviors and student perceptions.", was inspired by prejudice she saw while working as a teacher. A co-worker complained that her upcoming class would do poorly, based on the list of students with mostly black-sounding names.
Vandyck directs a program for first-generation students, students with disabilities, and students from low-income families at Beloit College. She also owns a performance coaching business, and formerly worked as a teacher.
Starting fall 2019, Vandyck sponsors a Marijuana Pepsi Scholarship for first-generation African-American students at UW–Whitewater.
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