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With scholarship in hand, Draper enrolled at Pepperdine University, located in Malibu, California.In 1971, when she was just twenty years old, Draper graduated with a degree in English.One day, however, she received a phone call that her short story, "One Small Torch," had taken first prize.
For the average person, such a hectic schedule would have been draining, but for Draper it must have been grueling considering she also had a second career as a published author. Draper had always encouraged her students to submit stories and poems to writing contests.As part of their final grade, seniors at Walnut Hills High School were asked to produce a well-researched term paper.Draper's expectations were so high that the task was eventually dubbed "The Draper Paper." T-shirts were even designed and given only to those students who successfully met the challenge. C., President Bill Clinton applauded Draper for her many years of service.More importantly, the win ignited a spark in Draper, who decided to try her hand at a longer work of fiction.Ever the teacher, she had her students' best interest in mind.Draper was born in 1952 in Cleveland, Ohio, the oldest child of Victor Mills, a hotel maitre'd (head-waiter), and Catherine Mills, who worked as a classified advertising manager for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.Books filled the Mills's home, and Catherine Mills read to her three children each night starting when they were very young; by the time Draper began school she was already a self-described bookworm.Pepperdine offered her a teaching position while she pursued a master's degree, but Draper chose to return to Ohio where she enrolled at Miami University of Ohio. During this same period, she married her husband, Larry Draper, who is also a teacher. As an English teacher in the Cincinnati Public School system, Draper earned a reputation as a no-nonsense educator who challenged her students to the limit."I demand the best from them," she explained on her Web site, "and they expect the best from me." Draper introduced students to classic and contemporary literature through seminar-like classes where kids were encouraged to discuss what they read in conjunction with current events.Draper also guaranteed parents that their children would emerge better writers from her classroom.One of Draper's writing assignments, in particular, became legendary.