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Woman accused of making bomb threats to halt university graduation ceremony

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Going away to college doesn’t guarantee that critical thinking will occur.

This quality seemed to be lacking in a plot allegedly carried out by a Quincy, Mass., woman to prevent her family from discovering she had missed a few classes. In fact, law enforcement authorities said she skipped her entire senior year.

Danielle Shea, 22, prepared for graduation at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., just like any other student. Members of her family arrived to watch her cross the stage when her name was called and receive her diploma.

But Ms. Shea wasn’t eligible to graduate. Police said she withdrew as a student without telling her parents so she could keep the tuition money coming her way.

Ms. Shea reportedly dressed the part of a graduate, donning a cap and gown this past weekend at the ceremony. But she realized she and her family would be told that no tickets were available for her, so she figured she had to do something to divert people’s attention.

Hamden police said Ms. Shea called in a bomb threat at about 5:45 p.m. Sunday. When she saw that people hadn’t been evacuated from the area, she called in another bomb threat about 17 minutes later, police said.

Investigators traced the calls to Ms. Shea’s cellphone. They said she confessed to the scheme when they located her.

So now on top of having her family discover that she has not been a student for an entire year, the one thing she desperately tried to conceal, Ms. Shea faces criminal charges of first-degree threatening and falsely reporting an incident. That’s not going to look good on her resume.

Here’s the $64,000 question: If she managed to have the graduation staging area evacuated, what was Ms. Shea planning to do after that? Did she envision that a series of bomb threats in the near future would keep her family from ever learning her secret?

If there’s one lesson that college graduates should take to heart this year, it’s this: Have a backup plan, preferably one that doesn’t involve bomb threats. Sending family members home disappointed because you dropped out of college is much better than compelling them to visit you in prison.

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