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TWU alumna becomes the youngest woman to graduate law school at 19 years old

Attentive and intelligent, Haley Taylor Schlitz’s parents questioned why her grades were dropping in her 5th-grade classes. Her parents believed in her abilities and wanted her to enter the Gifted and Talented program because she was not being challenged academically. The school refused, claiming her pre-STAAR exam scores were too low and that testing was only available for kindergarten students.

Her parents opted to homeschool her and within two years, at the age of 13, Schlitz graduated high school. Taylor Schlitz would continue on to graduate from Texas Woman’s University at the age of 16 from the College of Professional Education. 

“TWU is a fantastic school,” Taylor Schlitz said. “The students and faculty [were always] very welcoming. I was never discriminated against and was always included. It was very accommodating.”

Unbeknownst to her elementary school’s administration, they had declined the nation’s future youngest female law graduate. At the age of 19, she made history as the youngest female and Black American graduate of law school when she graduated from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law.

“I am passionate about changing the way the public-school works,” she said. “It was never designed for the way America looks now and it’s time to catch up. The trajectory of our country completely relies on it.” 

Schlitz originally planned on following in her mother’s footsteps to be an emergency room doctor, but she did some reflection on her journey and realized she wanted to go into educational policy instead, she said. She wants to increase opportunities for gifted and talented programs for girls of color.

“Many girls and students of color are left out of our nation’s gifted and talented programs,” Taylor Schlitz said in a news release. “Society will lose out on the potential science who cures a major disease, the entrepreneur who starts the next Amazon and so much more. All because of their gender and/or skin color.”

In addition to her prodigious intelligence and success in university, she is also an author, public speaker and advocate for issues facing students of color within the public school system. She was the youngest delegate of the Texas Democrat Party, and she served as a speaker when welcoming Kamala Harris at an event in Tarrant County. She was featured by Beyoncé on her This is Black History list of individuals, including Toni Morrison, Coco Gauff, Missy Elliott, Misty Copeland and more.

“You don’t find your path, you make it,” Taylor Schlitz said. “A lot of times I think we have a mindset that we will find out path one day and we will be able to just walk down and everything we’ve wanted will come our way, but that’s not the case. [Your path is] something you have control over, and you have the power to break apart the past and rebuild it in the way and direction you want to go.”

Taylor Schlitz is now teaching AP Government and AP Seminar to students before starting her career advocating for change within the public school system.

Maddie LaRosa-Ray can be reached via email at mray10@twu.edu.

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