Of all the weird ways a college student can get around campus, Tara Monroe has found one of the strangest.
Anybody running her name through a search engine long enough will find the peculiar pictures of her rolling around Texas State University in a small, pink, plastic car better known as a Barbie jeep.
"That's Tara," said her father. "Always got a little drama going on."
The story behind Tara Monroe's peculiar form of transportation traces back to a recent arrest for allegedly driving while intoxicated. When her dad found out what happened, he didn't hesitate.
"I went and put my bike rack on my jeep and proceeded to drive to San Marcos," Monte Monroe said. "And I told her, ‘The jeep's mine. Here's your bike. This is your new form of transportation.'"
His daughter was upset and remorseful, he said, but she also wasn't very happy about riding a bike around campus. So she went on Craigslist and bought a battery powered Barbie jeep.
"I figured I'd hear back from her," her father said. "Well, I did hear back from her. She said, ‘Dad, I got a Barbie jeep.' And she sent me a picture of her in the jeep."
A caption on the photo said, "My dad took my car away because I got in trouble and so I went out and bought my first car."
"She's a diva," said her sister, Taylor. "She doesn't walk. She doesn't sweat. She's not going to ride a bike. She's got to get somewhere, she's going to figure out how she's going to get there. She's stubborn."
Taylor figures Tara came up with the Barbie jeep idea because they used to ride a toy car around Kingwood when they were girls.
"I was in ninth grade, she was in eighth grade," Taylor recalled. "We'd do that all the time. We went through Starbucks drive throughs. The baristas there got a real kick out of that."
Since Tara Monroe bought her Barbie jeep, photos and videos of her tooling around San Marcos in her toy car have popped up on the Internet. Now she's getting phone calls from reporters and, frankly, she's a little frazzled by all the attention. (On Thursday, she declined an on-camera interview.)
"I don't think she anticipated the publicity that would come from it," her father said. "But I've told her, I said, ‘Use this to be an example for other people not to make the same mistake so they won't be where you are.'"
He hopes other students seeing her riding around campus in her toy car will take it as a warning about the consequences of drinking and driving.
"She is paying and continues paying the penalties for her actions," he said. "I want her and everyone else – all the kids in college that get out there and do this type of thing -- to learn from it and not do it."
The way her dad's talking, she may end up driving her toy car for a long time to come.
"I don't have any plans for her to drive for a very, very long time," he said.