|Emma at 14|
While that is a great accomplishment, it also meant Emma would be the youngest student on campus by a few years. Making the situation worse was that before she left, her Aunt Gladys was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Emma volunteered to go to Rampart State in the city so she could remain close to her aunt, but Gladys urged her to go ahead to Northwestern as planned to get a better education. Reluctantly Emma agreed to go.
Having never left home, not even for a sleepover when she was little, it was a painful adjustment to find herself alone on a campus with thousands of other students. Her roommate did little to make her feel welcome, openly complaining about being assigned to "babysit the little kid." The situation was especially awkward when Emma would go back to her dorm room from studying in the library to find her roommate making out with her boyfriend on Emma's bed. There was little Emma could do then but sit outside and wait for them to be done, all the while wishing she could be back home with her aunt and best friend Becky.
Some of the faculty didn't roll out the red carpet for Emma either. One calculus professor in particular tried to prove the little genius to be a fraud by making her solve a problem on the board in front of the class. He had deliberately written some of the equations wrong, hoping to fool her. Instead, Emma pointed out where his equations were wrong and went on to solve them correctly. While that might have proved she was as smart as her transcripts said, it didn't win the hearts and minds of her teachers.
Things took an even worse turn the next fall. While studying in the library, Emma was approached by a girl who struck up a conversation with her. The girl eventually invited Emma to a sorority party. Naively thinking she might finally have a friend on campus, Emma went to the party only to find a line of frat pledges waiting to kiss her as part of a hazing ritual. Embarrassed, Emma ran away sobbing. She contemplated calling her aunt to ask to come home, but decided against it. Instead she decided to persevere and complete her degree the next summer in spite of the adversity.
By the next fall Emma had gone on to Cal-Berkeley to get her doctorate. Knowing the kind of reception she would receive, Emma kept to herself more than ever, focusing on her studies while trying to ignore the insults. All the while she focused on returning to Rampart City to get a job at the Plaine Museum, where she had dreamed of working since she was a toddler. That single-minded determination didn't make things easier, but it kept her going through the dark times, until at last she could move back home and be reunited with her best friend--her only friend.
O is for Order of the Scarlet Knight