An interesting story on an Ivy League student and would-be Rhodes Scholar in The Chronicle of Higher Education

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This article requires a subscription. Would you be able to summarize the story for us?

Thanks

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Student represents herself as FGLI foster kid/abuse victim when applying to UPenn and for Rhodes scholarship. Investigation prompted by anonymous email reveals inconsistencies in her story, she withdraws from Rhodes, and UPenn considering withholding her masters degree. For most of her childhood, she lived with her mother, a radiologist, in an upper middle class neighborhood and attended an expensive private school. Following an alleged instance of abuse, she was placed in foster care for a year. Article discusses admissions officers interest in painful backgrounds.

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There is a lot more to this story:

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Thanks for the recap @roycroftmom

Thanks for the link. Anyone reading this post needs to read the article. This appears to be a great example of what happens when something is presented without context. I’m very interested to see what comes from all this.

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I read the full article which I found fairly balanced. While this student grew up comfortably, she was hospitalized after an altercation with her mother and spent two years in foster care. She was NOT a first generation college student, however, and appears to have slightly exaggerated the extent of her injuries. Her academic work at Penn, however, has been stellar and she was accepted into a doctoral program at Oxford even after withdrawing from the Rhodes program (despite Penn withholding her Master’s degree). It’s sad that the person who dropped the “anonymous” email was apparently her biological mother from whom she is estranged.

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I would argue that she still fell within Penn’s definition of first gen because she didn’t have a relationship with her mother at that point. It’s threading the needle a bit, but Penn’s own wording in that article invites it.

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Suffice to say, it seems unlikely the admission officers understood her background fully at the time of admission. I understand the consideration given to FGLI is usually in response to lengthy cultural and economic hardships overcome, not to those merely estranged from their doctor parents but raised mostly in privilege. Surprised her exclusive private school allowed her to submit the application in that form.

The prosecutor agreed to expunge the mother’s criminal arrest. That is rare in these types of cases. I concluded something had happened within the family, but exactly what remains murky.

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Considering this all occurred because Fiercton investigated, and would be a witness for a liability case against the University, the employees of Penn have stupidly weakened their first case and also created a new one. I suspect that the badgering Winklestein (?) will be let go, or at least I hope so. Maybe they will stop having classes in the basement as well. Poor girl!

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Unfortunately this is not an isolated case of university hypocrisy and abuse of power. Yale abused its power and railroaded basketball player Jack Montague out of the university in 2014, thereby denying him his opportunity at an Ivy League degree despite 3 years of successful academic work.

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Those links aren’t working for me.

The link posted above has spaces in the URL. This seems to be the correct URL (with spaces removed):

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You also realize that Penn is happy to brag about how many first gen students it enrolls. The president bragged about those kinds of stats. They were using students like this one just as much as she was using them…and likely much, much more. They created a narrative for her that made them look good, used her for PR purposes, and then abandoned her when she was no longer good for their PR.

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I think we will just disagree. This woman’s college and grad school application, in my view, were misleading at best. She sounds very intelligent and it would have been interesting to see if she would have been admitted without the story. The Rhodes Trust determined it had been misled as well.

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The tone of this article is as opinionated as the writer accuses Yale of being. The comments on it definitely coming from the “right” , if that’s what it is anymore. The story before was completely different, had more facts and details, so while I have formed an opinion about the first story, the second one I can not say, as I would need to know more.

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According to the linked article, the Rhodes Trust reportedly initiated an investigation after receiving a secret e-mail without knowledge of Fierceton. Under threat of having her undergrad degree rescinded by Penn, Fierceton then voluntarily declined her Rhodes scholarship. I read nothing in the article about the Rhodes Trust having reached a determination. Did I miss that in the lengthy article? Do you have another source? Thanks in advance for any info you can provide.

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From the article, Rhodes recommended rescinding the scholarship:

Rhodes did indeed conduct an investigation. According to a 15-page report, completed last April, a committee at the trust “reviewed extensive evidence gathered from confidential whistleblowers,” along with information handed over by the university and from Fierceton herself. The report calls Fierceton a “gifted, driven, and charismatic young woman” but employs the adjective “canny” to characterize how she presented herself as “someone who is first-generation, has been low-income throughout her life, and grew up in foster care.” The evidence the committee collected showed that Fierceton had, according to the report,"created and repeatedly shared false narratives about herself” and that her “misrepresentations also served her interests as an applicant for competitive programs.” The report recommended rescinding her scholarship. Fierceton withdrew from the program instead.

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Thank you.

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Yes, the Trust authorized an investigation, which submitted a report with recommendation. And yes, Fierceton declined the scholarship in the face of this as well as other circumstances at Penn. However, in the interests of accuracy I do not see anything there which indicates that “the Rhodes Trust determined that it had been misled.” As I read it, the Rhodes Trust never reached a determination. Committees arrive at conclusions and make recommendations all the time. Boards which receive those reports may or may not follow those recommendations. In this case, the matter was resolved before the Rhodes Trust reached a determination.

BTW, which article are you quoting?

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