Adam Wheeler faked his way into Harvard. Then he went a step too far.
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At Bowdoin, Adam’s behavior took a turn. According to the Boston Globe, he let his hair grow, wore shorts and flip-flops even in the frigid Maine winter, and began using “oddly ornate phrases, like ‘Dionysian Shangri-La.’” The Globe reported that Wheeler “joined the ultimate Frisbee team, which became his core social circle. He attended parties with the team but often stood awkwardly in the corner with a baseball cap pulled low over his face.”
In spring of his freshman year, Wheeler won the annual English department writing contest with a poem titled “This Much I Know.” He became known as “the campus poet” and he made new friends while showing off poems he scribbled on pieces of paper. Bowdoin would later learn that Wheeler had plagiarized the verse.
When he returned for his sophomore year, Wheeler had further changed his appearance. Skinny for most of his life, he had put on 20 pounds of muscle and was into a “maniacal” weight-lifting regimen.
Then Bowdoin accused him of plagiarizing an essay and suspended him for a semester. He would have been allowed to return, but he’d already raised his sights.
According to court documents, he had assembled a transfer application to Harvard, posing as a first-year student at MIT who was, essentially, perfect: a 4.0 grade point average and an SAT score of 1600. He even forged a transcript from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, using an ID number that belonged to a real student at Phillips. Harvard admitted him as a sophomore transfer in the fall of 2007.
Hajec recalls his reaction when his mother told him his friend had been admitted to Harvard. “I said, ‘I can’t believe that.’ He was never very ambitious in high school. But I said, ‘That’s cool.’”
Wheeler went on to win university writing awards at Harvard with, according to prosecutors, plagiarized material. He was even on track to receive Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships.
After two years, Harvard finally caught up to Wheeler, expelling him in October 2009. He returned to Delaware and the Broadkill Beach home to which his parents had moved. There, his serial duping of academia continued. Using fictitious resumes, he applied for an internship at McLean Hospital, a psychiatric facility affiliated with Harvard Medical School. He also applied as a transfer student to Yale, Brown and, finally, Stanford University.
Page 3: Busted, continues...