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Pre-Major Advisor Fakes Death, Leaves Country to Avoid Advising Freshmen on Course Registration


Photo by Sholeh / CC BY 2.0

Pre-major advisors are meant to help Penn students navigate the crash-filled hellscape that is Penn InTouch. They are assigned before the start of freshman year and work with the youngest members of the Penn Community™ to aid them in their academic transition.

But for one group of freshmen, this lofty dream quickly turned into a nightmare. 

Dr. Sharon V. Smith, a professor of Biology, is an internationally respected physician and researcher, with degrees from all of the Ivy League schools. But for her, the advising group made up of pre-meds was too much to handle. Dr. Smith reacted to the increasingly frantic and violent efforts of the pre-meds to gain her assistance by gruesomely faking her death in a lecture hall and fleeing the country under a fake name. 

At first, the freshmen didn’t know what had happened. “I tried emailing, calling, going to office hours, and even showing up at her house with my computer open to the first of my 44 mock schedules!” exclaims Malcolm Li*. “The next day, I walked into her classroom, and found her body—or I guess I should say the body of whichever corpse she stole from the morgue to throw us off the scent. It won’t work, Dr. Smith. I will find you. I’m pre-med. I have no morals, no shame, and no limits.”

According to Jolie Chute*, another first-year undergraduate, the claims that the pre-meds drove Dr. Smith to such lengths are ridiculous. “All I did,” she explained, “was threaten to blackmail her if she didn’t get me into the most prestigious classes! It’s not that big of a deal. My Dad did way worse to get me into this school.”

Dr. Smith did not respond to requests for comment, but a one-way receipt for a plane ticket to Aruba and her latest Facebook posts show that she is far away from the stresses of dealing with the acne-ridden, stress-fueled, overly affluent freshmen who occupied her previous daily life.  

* Name has been changed to protect the identity of medical school applicant