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According to a new feature from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a Wisconsin woman who has lived her whole life with the name Marijuana Pepsi recently finished her Ph.D. in higher education leadership at Cardinal Stritch University. Yes, that means she’ll now be Dr. Marijuana Pepsi. And yes, this might possibly be the greatest name of all-time.
A local celebrity of sorts, the Journal Sentinel has kept up with Dr. Marijuana for almost a decade, following her path from her masters degree and Wisconsin teaching job and real estate career to her recently-completed higher ed studies. From birth, Marijuana has dealt with teasing, name calling, and professional underestimation, but has always embraced her quirky name.
"People make such a big deal out of it,” Dr. Marijuana told Journal Sentinel reporter Jim Stingl. “I couldn't get away from it.”
To learn more about her own lived experience and further research about how titles have affected others, Marijuana wrote a dissertation titled "Black names in white classrooms: Teacher behaviors and student perceptions." In the paper, Marijuana interviewed students at her undergraduate alma mater, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, to find out how the reading of distinctly black names during roll call altered atmosphere in college classrooms. A black woman with a non-traditional name herself, Marijuana says she often experienced complete off-topic tangents and skeptical inquiries when her name was read aloud.
"You didn't ask anyone else that,” she recalled telling a professor who once asked what her name really was. “Why are you asking me? My name is Marijuana, thank you."
As for Dr. Marijuana’s feelings on, well, marijuana, the Wisconsin doctor says that she has never once touched the stuff, but still supports cannabis legalization as a means for social and racial justice.
“My main concern is the individuals serving time for marijuana-related offenses,” she told the Journal Sentinel. “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."
We couldn’t agree more, Dr. Marijuana.
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