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Person of Interest

Meet the Youngest Female Law School Grad in U.S. History

Haley Taylor Schlitz graduated from the SMU Dedman School of Law at 19 years old. That’s only one of many things you should know about her.
By Tim Rogers | |Photography by Marc Montoya
Haley Taylor Schlitz
Marc Montoya

What are you more tired of, getting teased about your age or your last name? I find it more humorous when people mess up my last name. Or they relate it to the beer and say I’m graduating from law school, but I’m not old enough to crack a beer. 

SMU obviously knows you’re its youngest law school grad, at 19, but how can we be sure you’re the country’s youngest female law school grad? A lot of research that my father and I did. Law schools keep pretty good records of who graduated, how they did on the bar, graduation rates, things like that. There were a couple people overseas that did it at 18. I think there was a young man who did it at 18 here in the country. I’m the youngest woman, period, and the youngest African American, regardless of gender. 

Of all the national media attention you’ve gotten, obviously this Q&A is the biggest thing you’ve done. Aside from this, though, have you done anything that has blown your mind? When I graduated from TWU at 16, Good Morning America flew me out to New York, and then they came to Texas to get video of me graduating from SMU. That was pretty awesome. Also, Essence wrote a story on me, and I think that was pretty cool, too. 

You have two younger siblings, and they’re also a bit ahead of schedule academically. They were also homeschooled by your dad and your mom, Myiesha Taylor, an ER doctor. What’s her secret? Really our secret is recognizing where we need to be, personalized education, allowing your student to do what they need to do to thrive. I was done with geometry in three months. Then we moved on to Algebra II. 

You and your mom wrote a book together, The Homeschool Alternative. What’s the thing that most folks misunderstand about homeschooling? That it’s hyper-religious or political, that you can’t or shouldn’t do it if you’re not religious or part of a particular political group. I also think there’s a misconception that it’s not real schooling or not effective schooling. Some people think it’s significantly easier than public school, private school, or a charter school. It’s even more challenging for the student if you do it right. 

How did your mom wind up in the Disney cartoon Doc McStuffins? That was the first cartoon on Disney Junior to have a Black girl lead. And so my mom got all of her Black doctor village, and they made a giant collage and said, “Thank you, Disney, for making this show and for helping to change the image of what a doctor looks like.” Disney took notice and was like, “Why don’t you come on down here?” and they shot a commercial with her, and now Doc McStuffins’ mom is named after my mom.

So race, education, and the law. There really isn’t much going on in the center of that Venn diagram. Are you worried about your job being slow and boring? [laughs] Very, very concerned about that! No, I am very excited to be able to jump into all the activity, especially with the whole CRT thing. It’s a great opportunity to really get some attention on the problems with the K-12 system.

What’s your message for every little girl of color who’s struggling with school right now? I love to emphasize to anybody who will listen that you don’t find your path; you make it. If you don’t like the way life looks or the way it’s going, you have the power to tear down the bricks and build whatever foundation you want. 

Author

Tim Rogers

Tim Rogers

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