Friday, July 13, 2007

Imposter Student

This is not a new story. Earlier this year, a student at Stanford University -- who had attended classes for nearly a whole year and lived in two different dorsm -- was discovered to be a complete fraud. She had not been accepted to attend Stanford (indeed, she had applied and been rejected), but she showed up anyways and managed to scam her way into dorm rooms, meals, classes, study groups, and the campus life in general.

Azia Kim was like any other Stanford freshman. She graduated from one of California’s most competitive high schools last June, moved into the dorms during New Student Orientation, talked about upcoming tests and spent her free time with friends.

Kim, an 18-year-old from Orange County who graduated from Fullerton’s Troy High School, lived in Kimball throughout fall and winter quarter. She lived in Okada, the Asian-American theme dorm, until Monday night, when University staff finally caught onto her ruse.

The "roommates" with whom she shared a room (which she entered by climbing in through the window, since she had no keys) are saying they feel 'betrayed' and 'freaked out' because the school allowed this to happen.

It's not like Kim was dangerous -- she never threatened anyone, she never seemed to be outwardly odd; she just attended a school she had been rejected from and apparently built an extremely complicated lie to make it work. I can understand them feeling betrayed, but feeling unsafe or scared seems a bit over the top to me. Although, if one "imposter" can make it through almost a whole year without anyone really suspecting, how many others are out there who are doing it better and getting away with it? Kim did not seem to have any malicious intent, but I'm sure others could. Quite a few people are very concerned that this is a serious security breach (read the comment son the article, they're quite interesting).

Obviously this girl has some serious problems -- some have suggested that she did this because of unreasonable pressure at home to attent a prestigous school, others that she had a burning desire to attend Stanford despite her lack of credentials. I think she deserves sympathy more than condemnation -- and some serious counselling to discover why she did this. Whether she's a pathological liar or simply desperate remains to be seen.

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