A 29-year-old scientist, Hyejeong Shin, was caught enrolling in classes at a New Jersey High School using false documents.
She had obtained the phone numbers of some students she befriended and was still texting them days after her deception had been discovered.
The school district has now barred her from entering their premises and also advised all students not to have any contact with her.
According to lawyers, the 29-year-old felt lonely and “wanted to return to a place of safety” after a recent “bitter divorce.” She also found herself $20,000 (£16,300) behind on her rent.
Originally from South Korea, she relocated to the US in 2010 and attended a prestigious boarding school in Manhattan. She studied political science and Chinese at a university in New York.
Hyejeong Shin has submitted a not-guilty plea and is seeking admittance into the special “first-time offenders” program, which would offer her probation in lieu of jail time.
Hyejeong hopes to return to South Korea when the case is closed. The case is due back in court on May 15.
In order to ensure that something similar does not happen in the future, the district is now reviewing its enrollment process, as they have nearly 10,000 students.
Reactions to the News
Reddit was abuzz with reactions to the news, sparking an animated discussion that received over 102,000 ‘upvotes’ on the platform.
“If she wanted to be a 29-year-old pretending to be a teenager, she should just star in a Netflix show set in a high school,” one user commented.
“Caused a downward spiral of despair as her family is all still in Asia, and she didn’t have a support system. Just kinda did it out of hopelessness, it sounds like,” another user commented.
“She definitely approached it wrong,” one user said, “but it’s f**king excruciating making friends as an adult. I moved to a new city a couple of weeks ago, and I found myself just sitting in my room wondering, ‘how the f**k did I make mates again?'”
One user explained how they faced chronic illness after graduating high school and wished to go back to less complicated times. High school was a time when they “had mental health care access,” fewer responsibilities, and it was easier to make friends. “Our world is often just so hard,” they admitted.
This post, Scientist Enrolls in US High School Under False Pretenses, Seeking Refuge from Post-Divorce Loneliness and Financial Turmoil, was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching. Reddit and Daily Star sources. The image does not represent the person from the article.
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