and Ben Geldon BETHESDA, Md. -- In 1991, Shannon Schieber was already making waves as a young math whiz. When she was student government president at her suburban Washington, D.C., high school, the county council was set to dramatically shrink the school system's budget. Schieber obtained a copy of the budget and devised a method for the county to save money and reduce the proposed budget cuts, according to Larry Levin, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School's student government adviser since 1982. Schieber testified before the council, which ended up enacting several of her spending suggestions. But her promising life came to an abrupt and brutal end May 7, when the first-year Wharton doctoral student was found strangled to death in her Center City apartment at age 23. Her funeral was held Tuesday in Chevy Chase, Md. The homicide of the prodigy -- who worked as a fellow with the S.S. Huebner Foundation at the Wharton School -- left friends and family shocked and distraught, as they searched to find a reason behind the killing of a close friend and colleague. "It was a very big shock and was really very hard to believe for all of us," said Farshad Mashayekhi, a first-year Wharton doctoral student. "You love one of your best friends, and then suddenly it's hard to believe that she is gone." Mashayekhi described Schieber as "very talented, smart and happy." "She smiled a lot," he added. Schieber was studying insurance in Wharton's doctoral program. Many of her friends and fellow classmates refused to comment on the murder. But classmate Sven Sinclair stressed that the Insurance Department will suffer with the loss of Schieber. "She was a person with great potential because she was very smart and she liked what she was doing," Sinclair said. Schieber, who grew up in Chevy Chase, graduated in 1995 with a math degree from Duke University in Durham, N.C. She also had majors in philosophy and economics. Duke math lecturer Margaret Hodel, who taught Schieber for three semesters, said her classroom performance was "stellar." "She was the person who sat in the front row and answered all of my questions," Hodel said. "She was both an exceptional person and student with a lot of promise." Hodel recalled a presentation Schieber made on a complicated math topic in a senior seminar. "The class was spellbound when they listened to her because she was such a dynamic person," Hodel said. "She told me she wanted to teach, and she would have made a very superb teacher." Schieber had always been a naturally gifted leader, according to those who knew her. In high school, her teachers considered her election victory outstanding, since she had transferred to the Bethesda, Md., public high school just before her junior year and was new to the school. She graduated in 1992. "She was the finest student leader I have ever had the pleasure to work with," Levin said. Schieber's classmates at Wharton agreed with Levin when he said he especially remembered her "wonderful smile" and "giddy laughter." "I think it's a major loss, not only to the community she was living in, but to the future communities she would have been a part of," Levin said. "I have no doubt she would have been a major philanthropist working for the good of others." Others who knew her as a teenager echoed Levin's remarks. "She was lovely," said the mother of one of Schieber's high school friends. Schieber wanted to let people know she was going places. At a leadership conference for high school students, she said she would prove wrong a lecturer who insisted a woman would never be president of the United States, a friend told the Philadelphia Daily News. "Yes, yes, there will -- it's going to be me," Schieber told the speaker. Her father -- an economist appointed by the Clinton administration to revamp the Social Security system -- told WTTG-TV in Washington, that his family is "in pain." "She was a loving daughter, and we loved her very much," Sylvester Schieber said.

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