Toni R. Draper '99
Major: B.A. Spanish; Employment: Special Education, TX
Author: “WILDFIRE” (www.tonirdraper.com)
Toni R. Draper ‘99
- Global Languages & Cultures
As a Brodbeck Scholar, your campus experience had to differ from that of a “traditional age” student; so what prompted you to choose Hood?
Because I was an older student with a rather large expanse of time between when I first enrolled in college classes and graduated with my degree, I didn’t have time to socialize with campus mates. I had a full time job that, thankfully, worked with me on course scheduling, and I had a young daughter to raise. It never occurred to me to look outside my community for another college or university. Hood has always had an excellent reputation and offered all that I wanted and needed.
Why did you choose Spanish as your major? Did you have a specific related career or job in mind when you chose this major?
In my early undergraduate days, I had my mind and sights set on a degree in Psychology. In the end, I took nearly as many (more?) classes in that subject as I did for my major. As a matter of fact, I think I was only lacking one course – statistics – for a double major. Alas, my life-long aversion to numbers, at the time, was stronger than any of my irrational decision-making. Although I’d been around Spanish speakers since my after-school working days at the age of fourteen, and realized early on that I not only had a love of the language, but also a certain affinity for its acquisition and learning, the actual game-changer came about when I found myself in Mexico without a good enough (then) grasp of the language to take advanced courses in another subject in Spanish. It was then and there that I decided to switch majors. I never gave my change another thought. After all, to my way of thinking, there’s not much difference really. The study of literature (no matter the language it’s written in) involves the analyzing of a fictional character’s psyche. I really didn’t have a particular end-goal toward which I was striving, but being bilingual has come in handy in every job that I’ve had, and is almost a necessity here in South Texas.
Did you have a particular professor, course, or campus experience that had an impact on your undergraduate and post-graduate success?
When you were a Hood student, you had a High Impact Experience studying abroad in Mexico at the Universidad de las Américas. What did you find most challenging about this experience? What was most rewarding?
Congratulations on the upcoming publication of your debut novel “Wildfire!” Reflecting on the entire process from concept to cover, what advice would you give to someone who has the same aspirations?
One last question! What does “Hood is Home” mean to you?