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Professor John Barna swooping in with the three page, hand-written letter.

This is how you get into NYU on an sizable academic scholarship, flunk out, get back into NYU for grad school, but don't attend. 

More or less to follow. (1/8)







Recommendation for Neeraj Katyal.”

Hm. Let's parse that for a moment.

“I have known Neeraj since his freshman year at NYU [in February 1996] and was his advisor until he left. I have kept in touch with him intermittently ever since. [His similar recommendation to The University of Chicago was dated 2/10/06.] As his personal statement indicates, he has lived through circumstances which would daunt most, and I will say only that such survival attests to his strength of character. My estimation of Neeraj is a superlative one despite --” 

(Given my druthers, I would've preferred Barna to have both begun and ended this recommendation letter right around here.) 

Regardless, Barna continued from there, at length. Let's give him his due respect and this recommendation an honest look.

(Despite the worst dud of an opening line a highly-regarded professor at a relatively-prestigious college could ever muster.)



















“I have known Neeraj since his freshman year at NYU and was his advisor until he left. I have kept in touch with him intermittently ever since. As his personal statement indicates, he has lived through circumstances which would daunt most, and I will say only that such survival attests to his strength of character.   

     My estimation of Neeraj is a superlative one despite an unusually disastrous record at NYU that only he himself can explain fully. Otherwise he has always impressed me as remarkably intelligent – perhaps he was not challenged by us enough to sustain what in him is a strong and abiding intellectual curiosity. He may not have read the assigned textbooks while at NYU, but he did read anything he could get his hands on: no subject failed to interest him; no book or conversation failed to stimulate him, and those of us who listened to him were also stimulated.

     His most recent schooling with the University of Maryland at least indicates his true capability. He has an intense interest in learning for its own sake, and although not successfully applied at NYU, such reading eventually equipped him in various employment until returning to college.









     “Neeraj let me peruse his finished personal statement for this application in order for me to refer to it if need be. I was impressed with his forthrightness about everything he had gone through, showing a genuine strengthening, I believe, in emotional and interpersonal skills. Most importantly perhaps for the purposes of this recommendation, the essays reminded me of his writing as an undergraduate, certain ones he has shown to me from time to time. I have a small and manageable group of advisees, and am able to look into more details of the students' academic life than is normal.

     Whatever the writing project was, Neeraj demonstrated the kind of fine mind which is capable of analyzing problems and of putting the imagination to work with an energy that would daunt most. This ability is evident in Neeraj's whole approach to writing: it not only reflects cogency, logic and the ability to reason abstractly, to conceptualize, but also has genuine creativity and imagination. His writing shows a depth in thinking which indicates much care in preparation. His topic or thesis is always accompanied by thorough research leading to a well-thought out point of view. He refuses to take short cuts, but rather investigates a problem until a bona fide conclusion can be reached.

     As in his written work, Neeraj speaks articulately; when discussing a project he employs some of the same approaches which animate his writing – clarity of ideas, seeing all sides of an issue.
















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...seeing all sides of an issue, making the kind of comments which are always intellectually stimulating. His enthusiasm in all endeavors is contagious; moreover, he is a good listener: he responds with great consideration to the ideas of others and is always sensitive to points of view other than his own.

     When at NYU he was generous with his time in community charity work. Neeraj did this with his fraternity: NYU's fraternities are unique in that among other duties assigned, they are required to perform community service. In that organization I would also add that he mixed well with everyone and supported others with his particularly mature outlook and was highly regarded and respected by his peers who often sought his advice

     Neeraj is good, moral person. He is honest and straightforward in his dealings with people. He has a strong sense of duty, putting priority on work. But he is at the same time no “drudge: he knows when to socialize and when to work. If the committee decides to overlook the NYU record, I predict outstanding success in Graduate social work (and career) by virtue of both high calibre intellectual and personal characteristics. I give him the highest recommendation possible -- and at this time in Neeraj's life I have no reservations is so doing.   





Moving on:

Here is a cuter recommendation, because I was 21 and Sam Esmail was 21 when he wrote it for me. This was long before he won a Golden Globe for creating Mr. Robot and that landed that 100MM Netflix deal. Anyway, I was interning freshman year for Marvel Entertainment and Barbie Magazine for a woman name Polly Chevalier. (What a 1990s publishing name.)

But yeah -- it was all pretty typical as far as internships go, and I loved it every single minute of it.  (2/8)


Ms. Christie Griffin of Muncie, Indiana is one of the kindest, most intelligent, and talented people I've met in New York.


Perhaps most importantly, Ms. Griffin evinces a certain joy and enthusiasm for life that is as contagious as it is inspiring.


I consider myself lucky to have met and known Christie Griffin. In sum, I feel honored to call her a true and trusted friend.



No one really knows what Condé Nast is these days. Which is fine; I couldn't care less either way. It's a major publishing conglomerate, if you care about that sort of thing. Either way, if people don't know what Condé Nast is, they definitely don't know what the scoop is on all the Condé Nasties,” and that's probably a great thing for all those terrific women involved.

Anyway, I know where all the bodies are buried, and then some, because I'm from the 90s. I went to both high school and college in the 90s, and if there's one thing I learned during my time over that period, it's that there were absolutely no rules.

There were no rules in the 1990s. And I mean none. Especially in New York and on Long Island.

You could do anything. Anything at all.

The 90s were a cruel, unsavory environment, but also an idyllic, whimsical Eden full of private beaches and lush vineyards. 

In any case, I never interned at either The New Yorker or VOGUE. But it begs further exploration and discussion; I know.


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