Dear Wizard of Oz,

I want to thank you and the Universitatus Committeeatum for conferring the degree of Doctor of Thinkology upon me. That said, I have struggled considerably to find suitable employment in academia and my student loans are coming due. They say your education is the one thing nobody can take away from you, but I implore you to do just that. Please accept my brain in exchange for canceling my student loan debt.

As a humble, mindless scarecrow, I never dreamed I would be the first in my bale of hay to attend college, let alone receive a graduate degree. While it was a significant investment, I always intended to pay back my loans. I had great and powerful ambitions for my post-brain career; my mentor Dorothy Gale even suggested that I could be the next Abraham Lincoln.

But things haven’t worked out as planned. It doesn’t help that my professional network is woefully underdeveloped. Though I whiled away the hours conferrin' with the flowers and consultin' with the rain, neither flowers nor rain typically sit on faculty search committees at major research universities.

My dissertation, “Why the Ocean Meets the Shore: Seasonal Effects of Wave Energy on Beach Profiles,” sparked tremendous interest among the marine geology community. However, the response was far more tepid within Oz, a landlocked territory. I argued that I was flexible: my research could go this way, or that way, or both ways. If hired, I could even think of things I never thunk before. But no department chair was willing to take that risk.

Dorothy pulled some strings and got me an offer at Kansas State. On the hot air balloon ride to campus, I thought, “Oh joy. Rapture. Now I can select a repayment plan.” Imagine my dismay when I found out I wasn’t being offered a job, but a tryout. And the opening was not for their new professor of environmental science, but a scarecrow for their student farm. By the way, I didn’t get the job. Crows came from miles around just to eat in my field and laugh in my face.

My dreams of tenure went up in flames, but I still yearn to be part of a university community. So I applied to be an advisor at Munchkinland A&M in the hopes that I could unravel every riddle for any individ'le in trouble or in pain. But those are union positions, so Lollipop Guild members are given hiring preference.

It’s been a lonely struggle. Aside from Dorothy, I’ve lost touch with the Yellow Brick Roadies: The Formerly Cowardly Lion is always traveling, thanks to his MMA fight schedule. And Tin Man blocked my calls after I made too many jokes about recycling him in his sleep for cash. I hung out with the Winged Monkeys for a while, but ever since they hit the jackpot creating NFTs, their handlers keep moochers like me away.

As repayment approaches, life’s no ding-a-derry. I’ve been selling my straw to be made into broomsticks and am considering enlisting in the Winkie Guard to extend my grace period a bit longer.

I’m also applying for jobs that qualify for the Ozian Loan Forgiveness (OLF) Program. Currently, I’m a substitute geometry teacher at Emerald City High School. Students are preparing for the Oz-wide examinations, so most days are spent reciting, “The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side.” I guess this brain is good for something.

The other day, I overheard students hypothesize what they would ask for if they had an audience with Your Wizardry: A brain? A heart? A home? The noive?

If I were in their shoes today, I would answer the only way I knew how: through song.

“I could follow any passion,
For game design or fashion,
For art or public health.

And my joy would be tripled
‘Cause no debt would leave me crippled
If I only had generational wealth.”

Take my brain, please.

Forever in your debt,
The Scarecrow, ThD


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