I’m sorry to be writing you like this. I know leaning on our former relationship is a bit presumptuous of me, but I cannot write anything official in my capacity as professor and Oriana’s academic adviser. In a letter to an old friend, however, I am free to gossip since what I have to tell you can be taken in the context of the little girl I would watch while her mother was being brilliant in the lab next door.
Oriana will be coming home when the academic year is over. There’s no job for her and no tendrils elsewhere in doctorate programs. I don’t know if she’s told you yet; she doesn’t communicate well with me and I make an active effort to keep in contact to make sure she will be graduating. She is a genius, Agatha, the likes of which I haven’t seen in all my years at the university. It was probably a poor idea to request her as an advisee, but I think I’m the only thing standing in the way of her expulsion.
Although I know expulsion sounds somewhat dire, it’s not so bad as that. She has been working like one possessed since she arrived several years ago, and the accelerated degree program has almost been too slow for her. It’s just that in her obsession, she has neglected to develop any social skills that would allow her teachers to relate to her on even a professional level. She doesn’t sleep, she barely eats, and she would probably forgo breathing if it used brainpower she wanted for something else. She has scant few friends, and the ones she does are infinitely patient or as equally eccentric.
However, my coworkers are actively put off by her attitude and ineptitude in dealing with others. She has burned so many bridges in this fashion it is an absolute miracle that there are any professors and researchers in our field that she can hold a conversation with, let alone be taught by.
It’s not that she’s not making progress, Agatha, understand this. It’s that she has discovered new pathways through old woods and alienated many dusty game-trail defenders. If she had more grace with it, she would still be an intellectual outcast but invited to academic and industry dinners and meetings with the military. With her father’s temper, pardon the recolection Agatha, she’s all but a pariah.
As your friend, I wanted you to know the situtation as it stands. When she returns to you in the spring it won’t be because she’s a failure, far from it, but she will have no where else to go. You know me. She’s even managed to anger me and I have screamed her from my office more than once. Maddeningly focused, she shows an unhealthy prediliction towards discarding contrary opinions without due consideration. In short, she’s obstinate and so certain of her own superiority that it is actively dangerous to her future.
She’s deteriorating in a hostile environment of her own creating and has absolutely no idea how to fix it. She won’t listen; she’s too stubborn. In that—and this is not a dig—she takes more after your side of the family. The environment here is toxic to her simply by being who she is. Another environment would be far better, preferably away from academia where she can put her prodigious talents to practical use.
When she returns after the spring, care for her. I’ve been her adviser—and babysitter—long enough to know she needs it despite the armor of arrogance she has constructed.
Give my love to Ricky, if the mangy fellow is still alive.
- desiderii posted this