June 12, 2015 12:08
A purported high school prodigy's claim to a local paper that Harvard and Stanford universities competed to scout her has spiraled out of control after mainstream media here picked up the story, compelling both venerable institutions to deny they ever heard of her.
Since then more claims have surfaced on the Internet that Sara Kim is a serial fabricator. A post on notoriously vociferous social media site Reddit on Thursday accused Sara, a student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia, of falsely claiming last year to have won a nationwide math contest.
The post is believed to have been written by a classmate.
According to the post, Sara dropped out of the preliminary round of the competition but then doctored an e-mail to a friend confirming her advancement past the preliminary round.
Sara also failed Harvard's rolling admission program last year but claimed she had been accepted, the post said. Her lie was revealed when her name was not on the list of students who were accepted.
But Sara persisted, posting photos on Facebook of her visiting the Harvard campus in April and claiming she had also been admitted into Stanford. She even went to a meeting of prospective Harvard freshmen in April and had her photo taken with them.
Her claim to have scored a perfect GPA of 4.6 at Thomas Jefferson High School also turned out to be false. One parent at the school said, "The valedictorian was an Indian student whose GPA was 4.57."
Sara then claimed that she scored a perfect 2,400 points on her SAT exam, another lie. The parent said, "At present, the only thing that is true is that she does go to Thomas Jefferson High School." The parent added that the general perception is that Sara suffers from mythomania.
In a press release later on Friday morning, Sara's father, an executive at global online gaming company Nexon, apologized for causing a stir with the fabrication. "I'm responsible for all the mistakes and sorry not to have taken better care of this poor kid," he said. He promised to look after her better since she apparently suffered from extreme stress due to academic pressures. He allegedly had no idea that the story was false.
Jefferson was ranked at the top of U.S. high schools by U.S. News & World Report and more than 100 of its graduates are admitted to Ivy League universities every year. Last year, 3,000 applicants flocked to the high school for 480 openings. Around half of the students are from Asia.
The Internet is being flooded with comments both criticizing Sara's behavior and voicing sympathy for an adolescent who may have suffered tremendous pressure from a culture that places too much emphasis on sheepskin.
One post read, "I am an academically demanding parent, but now I am worried that I may be ruining my child."
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