Back in 2019, we brought you the first chapter in Haley Taylor Schlitz‘s legal career when the then-16-year-old announced which law school she’d be attending. Because after graduating from high school at 13, getting a bachelor of science at 16 from Texas Woman’s University, well law school was next on her list. She decided to attend Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. Because time is linear, now she’s graduating, making her the youngest Black person in the history of this country to graduate from law school.
Of this monumental accomplishment she says:
“It feels really good,” Haley said. “Not only does it feel good to be recognized for the accomplishment, but it also feels good to be able to get my story out there. I’m really hoping to inspire anybody who hears my story.”
And of course, her father is proud of her achievement:
“This image of this young Black woman in America, in the state of Texas, getting ready to walk across the stage and make history, not as just the youngest Black law graduate in the history of this country, but also as the youngest woman in this country to walk across the stage and get her JD,” father, William Schlitz said.
Schlitz educational journey wasn’t always an easy one. Her parents made the decision to homeschool her after she was unable to test for the gifted program in her own school.
“There was a lot of people trying to tell me ‘no’ in public school and all throughout my journey, but that was definitely something I faced in public school. I wasn’t able to test for talented programs, [faced] constant acts of racism, and micro aggressions, and it was just a lot,” Schlitz said.
That setback is what motivates her today:
“Anybody who’s listening to me, but particularly students of color and girls, know that you should eat ‘nos’ for breakfast, don’t let other people tell you how you should build your path. Don’t let other people tell you what you can and can’t do.”
But the next thing on Schlitz’s to-do list is pass the July bar exam. Something tells me she’ll do just fine.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).