Harvard, Stanford Debunk Story of Korean ‘Math Prodigy’

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Over the past week, there’s been a slight media frenzy over the story of a South Korean “math prodigy” who was allegedly approved to attend both Harvard and Stanford universities through a special joint program. On Tuesday, the two prestigious universities denied the story, claiming that the Korean student’s acceptance letter was forged.

Sara Kim, an 18-year-old senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia, became famous following reports of her enviable joint admission to both Harvard and Stanford.

Chosun-Ilbo-Korean-Student-Gets-Chance-to-Attend-Both-Harvard-and-Stanford(Screenshot captured by The Marmot’s Hole )

Kim’s parents had claimed that the two universities vied to recruit Kim into their undergraduate schools because she was such a brilliant student, particularly in mathematics. They said that Harvard and Stanford later agreed to enroll Kim into special joint program, which would allow her to study at Stanford for the first two years and then at Harvard for her junior and senior years.

However, their claims came under scrutiny after Harvard and Stanford universities denied having any such joint program.

“Despite recent media reports, there is no program in existence through which a student is admitted to spend two years at Harvard College and two years at Stanford University,” Anna Cowenhoven, a Harvard Public Affairs and Communications official, wrote in an email to Yonhap News Agency.

She added, “We have been made aware of an alleged admissions letter sent to Ms. Jung Yoon (Sara) Kim by Harvard University. We can confirm that this letter is a forgery.”

letter(Image via Yonhap)

Stanford University also maintained a similar position.

“I am confirming that the letter you received was NOT issued by Richard Shaw or Stanford University,” Lisa Lapin, a senior communications official at the university, told Yonhap.

Kim’s parents have provided reporters with a copy of their daughter’s acceptance letter as proof of her admission. Kim’s father, who is reportedly the managing director of Nexon Korea, said the family has decided to bring in a lawyer to deal with the case. He added that there could be some misunderstanding about Kim’s joint enrollment as it has only been discussed between professors of the two universities.


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