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Chicago Teen Walks, Graduates with Doctoral Degree

Dr. Dorothy Jean Tillman was accepted in 2021, at 15, into the Doctor of Behavioral Health Management Program at Arizona State University.Dr. Dorothy Jean Tillman was accepted in 2021, at 15, into the Doctor of Behavioral Health Management Program at Arizona State University.Photo by Harshith Godishala/Arizona State UniversityDr. Dorothy Jean Tillman II defended her dissertation at 17.

Tillman completed an online doctoral degree in integrated behavioral health from Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions in December. This spring, the teen participated in commencement ceremonies.

“I chose integrated behavior health because it only made sense from a perspective of growing fields and creating jobs and opportunities, as opposed to finding a job,” said Tillman. “Those were two good choices because mental health is very big, for lack of a better word, these days.”

Tillman — who holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College of Lake County (Illinois) and master’s in environmental science from Unity College in Maine — inspired the Dorothy Jeanius STEAM Leadership Institute and Dorothy Jeanius STEAM Labs in Chicago and West Capetown, South Africa.

She creates STEAM children's books and delivers talks to motivate young people to be proactive regarding environmental sustainability. This work, she said, she plans to continue.

“My plans are definitely to stay working with youth and to go into communities that are youth-based,” said Tillman. “So, whether it is a school or whether it is just a place that has youth-based programming and things like that and works on integrated behavioral health programming.”

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