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¿Quién es Disco Donna?

—By Terry Phelps

To connect with students in her Spanish classes, assistant professor Donna Hodkinson (BA Spanish ’75) uses various techniques, such as wearing T-shirts from concerts she has attended, like a Bee Gees concert 21 years ago. “I came to class bopping around and wearing my newest T-shirt,” she recalls. “One guy said, ‘Just call her Disco Donna!’ and my nickname was born.”

She admits, “I really am more of a hard rock head-banger,” but the name has stuck.

Donna Hodkinson photo by Josh Robinson

Hodkinson has been teaching at OCU “for 72% of my life,” she says, beginning as an adjunct in 1976. But as a work-study student, she taught here as a substitute when professors had emergency absences. She recalls classes in OCU’s converted old World War II Quonset hut, when smoking was allowed in classrooms. One professor smoked while lecturing, a cigarette in one hand and chalk in the other. Once he accidentally tried to take a drag off the chalk.

After completing her BA at OCU, she earned an M.Ed. at the University of Central Oklahoma and an Ed.D. from Oklahoma State University.

She first fell in love with Spanish in the fourth grade, watching a 15-minute TV lesson once a week. The language came easily to her, and she could “speak what I thought of as a secret language with a whole new group of people.” She later attributed her affinity for the language and culture to her mother’s being pregnant with her on a vacation to Havana, Cuba.

Courses she teaches include Advanced Spanish Grammar and Composition, Spanish Conversation, and Latin American and Spanish Civilization. She has accompanied study abroad students to Tepotzlán and Nuevo Casas Grande, Mexico, and has supervised students in service-learning projects teaching introductory Spanish in neighborhood public elementary schools.

She is particularly proud of her advanced students’ work at Gatewood Elementary School to satisfy their service-learning requirement. For 15 years, OCU students provided Spanish lessons to children in kindergarten through fifth grade, writing their own lesson plans, designing handouts, and creating games that incorporated the vocabulary. Many of the children did not know anyone personally who’d gone to college, so OCU students provided an example of the possibilities open to those who strived for academic success.

Hodkinson and her husband, John, have had “National Lampoon-style vacations,” as she calls them, through New Mexico and Colorado with their children. Their son, Travis, and daughter, Kelly, both attended OCU, majoring in art and photography, respectively.

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