Hayley Taylor Schlitz, age 19, is set to be the youngest law school graduate at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and the youngest Black woman to graduate from law school in the U.S.
Schlitz had been accepted to nine law schools at age 16, according to SMU officials, ultimately choosing SMU’s Dedman School of Law.
“In her three years at Dedman School of Law, Haley has made a name for herself as an author, public speaker, and respected thought leader on the issues students of color face in navigating gifted and talented programs in public schools,” according to university officials.
Schlitz attended public school until fifth grade, and was then home-schooled. Racism in school and her parents’ disappointment with the public school system for not recognizing her as a gifted student, influenced her parents’ decision to home-school her.
“Many girls and students of color are left out of our nation’s gifted and talented programs,” Schlitz said. “Society will lose out on the potential scientist 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.”
Schlitz graduated high school and attended Tarrant County College at age 13, transferring to Texas Woman's University, where she graduated at age 16, becoming the school’s youngest graduate on record.
According to the SMU release, Schlitz serves as mentor in the Young Scholar Program (YSP) – a program to develop leadership skills of young Black girls – is an opinion columnist for Blavity and Blavity U; and is co-author of The Homeschool Alternative, with her mother Dr. Myiesha Taylor. In June 2020, Haley was elected to serve as delegate to the Democratic National Convention at age 17.
Schlitz graduates May 13, and she plans to work on education policy issues afterwards.
"I really want to help students realize their potential even if they can't home-school," Schlitz told the Dallas Morning News in 2019. "I want to help families open their eyes to the opportunities that they don't even realize are there."