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Stanford imposter shows pressures of teen life

Original post made by Parent on May 25, 2007

The recent news about a teen pretending to be a Stanford student, going to classes, etc. speaks volumes about the pressures we are putting our teens under. This girl is no criminal, she is just trying in whatever way she can, to please her parents and feel that she is a success in a very competitive arena. My heart goes out to her. I expect she feels bad now, but possibly relieved that the truth is out. The way she lived over the past 8 months shows that she felt there was no other way for her to win the approval of a society that appears to demand no second best.

This girl does not deserve to be punished, rather to be helped. She could easily be the product of Palo Alto. She could easily be one of the many very good students in either Gunn or Paly who feel that they have failed in life by not getting into a top ten university.

Let this be a lesson to all parents in Palo Alto.

Comments (16)

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 25, 2007 at 9:21 am

Wow, you sure hit the nail on the head.


Posted by Todd, a resident of another community
on May 25, 2007 at 2:08 pm

"...she felt there was no other way for her to win the approval of a society that appears to demand no second best."

Really?

Are you saying that cheating is a legitimate way to gain approval in life? So many of her peers studied hard and made it the legitimate way. You feel sorry for her. I do not. I think she deserves a lot of punishment. Above all, do not praise her or make excuses. She needs to grow up. Assuming she is 18 years old, she is a legal adult. Enough said.


Posted by D Tracy, a resident of Barron Park
on May 25, 2007 at 2:22 pm

Stanford should employ her as a security consultant, a la what many software security companies do with geeks who know how to break code.


Posted by anon., a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 25, 2007 at 4:25 pm

good idea tracy!


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2007 at 4:44 pm

Todd

I think you have me wrong. I am not condoning or applauding what she did, I am just empathising. I have kids in Palo Alto schools and I know the pressures they are under. They work very hard and if they don't get into a top ten university they are made to feel they fail. All our kids can't go to Ivy Leagues even if they were good enough, the colleges can't take that many from one school. That means there will be many who could get there on merit, but don't.

You think she deserves a lot of punishment. What do you suggest? She is not a criminal. All she was attempting to take was an education. I don't think she should get off scott free, but don't blow this out of proportion. You rightly say that 18 is adult, but can you remember what 18 really feels like? This girl is barely out of high school and has done something foolish for reasons we can only guess at. My point, is that I know many Palo Alto students struggling to win prestige and although I do not praise this enterprise, I do understand where she is coming from. A little compassion and counsel along with paying for her mistakes would do a lot in this case. If she did some community service and paid the monetry value of her board and lodgings makes a lot of sense. She went to classes, but was never tested or accredited, so I don't know how to evaluate that, but a severe punishment should not be on the cards.


Posted by Todd, a resident of another community
on May 25, 2007 at 5:06 pm

Parent, my kids studied hard, got good grades, tested high, applied to Stanford and did not get in. If either of my kids had pulled off this stunt, I would have paddled them (again). Perhaps it is because I paddled them when they were younger, that they did not try to game the system.

Parent, you have coughed up so many excuses that it is hard to know where to start. Did you spank your kids? If not, perhaps that explains your ethical challenge in this case. Is there a line that should not be crossed in your mind? This woman was a thief. There are criminal penalties for thieves.


Posted by Wondering, a resident of Midtown
on May 25, 2007 at 5:21 pm

They say this girl was taking classes, studying with her peers .. makes me wonder how a teacher didnt' catch this earlier? May not be during the first two or three classes, but a teacher recognizes the student(s) in his/her class towards the end of the course .. the teacher grades the papers, looks at the grades - how come none of the teachers wondered where the girl was during the exam, how come she never asked for a make-up exam and how she never questioned about her grade ..

Not too sure if this girl actually attended classes .. if she did not, then I wonder how her peers didn't question her about her attendance ?

Then there are questions as to how her parents never found out!

I agree to some extent with the peer pressure, made to feel like a failure if you don't get into the IVY league but this girl needs to be suitably punished for her deed - I won't say throw her behind bars for the next 10 yrs of her life; but she definitely needs to be held accountable for what she has done. This scaled down punishment will do her good in her later life - otherwise she may go on the same path, thinking that its ok to cheat.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2007 at 5:56 pm

Todd

Yes I did spank my kids and if they pulled a stunt like this they would certainly get what for. However, I actually listen to my kids and talk to them about realistic expectations for their lives.

I also think that 18 is too young an age to be classed as an adult, but perhaps that is another discussion. I was one of the people who turned 18 while 21 was still the age of majority and by the time I turned 21 it had been reduced to 18.

We protect our kids all the way through high school and then expect them to go out on their own and suddenly become adults. Most do very well, many make mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are fairly minor, but often even minor mistakes have longer lasting consequences. This mistake is just that, a mistake. As I said before, I don't believe she is a criminal and although she probably knew what she was doing was ethically wrong, she did not appear to have any criminal intent.

Todd, I hope your children do well in life. If they make mistakes, I hope you find out why. I hope they come and admit to you their failures and I hope you have some compassion.


Posted by A Guy, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 25, 2007 at 6:48 pm

I guess I don't understand the accusation of her somehow cheating society or those who actually were admitted to Stanford. Hanging around the Stanford campus and pretending to fit in is not the same thing as somehow actually getting credit for any of the misguided effort.

Obviously she has some emotional isssues. If I'm on the jury I'll let her off with a temporary insanity plea. She must be if she wanted in to Stanford that badly ;-)

Go Bears!


Posted by amazing!, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 25, 2007 at 9:53 pm

Eight months to figure out about a security breach... Impressive response time, almost as good as Katrina.

It's also amazing how the impostor duped so many students during the eight months. So much for the intellectual capacity of the students in the Harvard of the west.

Palo Alto as a 'safe haven' probably gave many students a false sense of security. Let's hope all this media coverage turns into a good lesson for students and campus officials.


Posted by HopeNot, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 25, 2007 at 10:10 pm

I hope this incident does not turn the campus into a "you got to swap your bagde to open the doors of a building/classroom" !


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 26, 2007 at 2:17 pm

what's wrong with swiping badges to gain entrance to a dorm??


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 27, 2007 at 1:32 am

Stanford's classes are open, so the profs probably thought she was auditing.

But now it looks like there was a second imposter--four years posing as a physics grad student. Now, how did that one get by? I can understand it with a freshman, but grad students work pretty closely with the faculty.


Posted by Spanky, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 27, 2007 at 7:02 pm

I read two posts from two different parents who suggest that physically striking their children will lead to an expected outcome. I never laid a hand on any of my children. My oldest daughter did well in school, ok work-ethic, average SATs and was accepted to Stanford. My son, had a great work-ethic, perfect grades, above avergae SATs and did not get into Stanford. My neighbor's children grew up with my kids. Their parents would often crticize my parenting style, I was "too soft" on them. They, in turn, did spank their kids - their sons are in jail.


Posted by parentalfailure, a resident of Downtown North
on May 27, 2007 at 10:32 pm

"I have kids in Palo Alto schools and I know the pressures they are under. They work very hard and if they don't get into a top ten university they are made to feel they fail. All our kids can't go to Ivy Leagues even if they were good enough, the colleges can't take that many from one school. That means there will be many who could get there on merit, but don't."


On this one, I think Palo Alto parents, as a breed, are to blame. My daughter did not allow stress to build up in her high school years at Paly. She had less than stellar grades, and a life. She had outstanding SATs... and got into one of the top 50 universities, and definitely not in one of the top ten.

When other parents, in her senior year in high school, asked me where my daughter was headed for college, I proudly announced the name of her future university... Their response was almost always a silence, or a "ah", with a look of pity on their faces.

Note: My daughter is NOW doing extremely well, despite her "pitiful" university :)


















Posted by bemused, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 28, 2007 at 11:03 am

...well, it beats hanging out at pool halls. Perhaps these two are simply the least competent members of a vast unregistered tribe of hangers-on.

I wonder how frequent this practice is, both at Stanford and generally. Presumably, one could identify different, not necessarily mutually exclusive, sub-populations among this group: individuals looking for a private school education, who aren't worried about the credential; spouse-hunters who plan to drop out after their marriage and before their 'graduation'; the predatory mentally unstable; extremely clever unhoused individuals who go where the pickings are best.

...I smell a thesis topic, or an undercover investigative journalist piece in the making!


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