In November 2020, University of Pennsylvania graduate student Mackenzie Fierceton, 24, won the Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University. It’s a hard scholarship to win, but Fierceton was granted the coveted prize due to the adversity this brave young woman claimed she overcame. When the Rhodes Trust saw that she said she grew up in poverty and in the foster care system, that she was a survivor of child abuse and that she’s the first in her family to go attend college, it found her story so inspiring that the panel couldn’t think of a better candidate to be awarded the scholarship.
There was only one problem—this white woman was lying her a** off.
According to Evening Standard, the Rhodes Trust and University of Pennsylvania received an anonymous tip that Fierceton was being “blatantly dishonest” when she described herself on her application for the scholarship as “a first-generation [to go to college] low-income student and a former foster youth.”
The Standard reported that the source “told the trust and university how Ms. Fierceton — whose previous name was Mackenzie Morrison — went to the Whitfield private school in Missouri, her mother was a radiologist and her hobbies at school included riding, skydiving and white water rafting.”
So basically, this caucasity-infused white woman who purported herself to be a have-not who came from have-nots is allegedly a middle-class woman who went to a $30,000-a-year private school, had at least one highly-educated and credentialed parent and had the kind of childhood hobbies that are typically enjoyed by people who shop without even bothering to look at price tags. (I’m not saying they call it “white water rafting” because it’s mostly white people who can afford to do it as a regular hobby, I’m just saying if “Black water rafting” were a thing, people would assume it was the dollar store version of white water rafting.)
So, the Trust investigated Fierceton and found that she spent less than one year in foster care at age 17 after she told the police her mother pushed her down a flight of stairs at their home. (A $750,000 home, as the investigators noted.) As a result of the call to police, Fierceton’s mother was arrested, but the charges against her were dropped due to a lack of evidence.
After the investigation, a Rhodes committee found that Fierceton “created and repeatedly shared false narratives about herself” and used “misrepresentations” to “serve her interests as an applicant for competitive programs.” As a result, Fierceton withdrew from the Rhodes program and the University of Pennsylvania is withholding her master’s degree pending further investigation.
“The Rhodes Trust conducted its own investigation…the Trust then gave Ms. Fierceton the opportunity to withdraw her candidacy if she chose to do so,” a University of Pennsylvania spokesperson said in a statement. “Ms. Fierceton accepted that offer.”
Still, Fierceton is dying on the “woe is me” hill and claiming she didn’t tell any lies on her application. In a lawsuit filed last month, she accused the university and the trust investigators of attacking a “survivor” of abuse.