KELLER, Texas — History will be made this Friday when a North Texas native walks across the stage to graduate as the youngest law student at Southern Methodist University ever.
She’s also set to become the youngest African American to graduate law school in the United States.
At 19, Haley Taylor Schlitz says her path to SMU’s Dedman School of Law was non-traditional. When she was in the 5th grade, she struggled with not being acknowledged as a gifted student. Her parents noticed that she was beginning to act out and, after seeing a pediatric psychologist, it was revealed that Taylor Schlitz needed to skip several grades after scoring extremely high on an intelligence test.
Her parents then decided to homeschool her to better meet her educational needs.
“Many girls and students of color are left out of our nation’s gifted and talented programs,” Taylor Schlitz said in an interview with SMU. “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.”
Taylor Schlitz said she thrived at working at her own pace and by 13 she graduated from high school. At 16, she was accepted into nine different law schools across the U.S.
Taylor Schlitz has been passionate in using her voice to help move the needle in her community and to speak on public policies. In 2020, she was elected to serve as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
But the talented teen isn’t the only one in her family making a name for herself. In 2021, WFAA sat down with Taylor Schlitz, her brother Ian and Hana – who were also home-schooled, and both finished high school by the age of 13.
Ian earned a bachelor’s degree, graduating magna cum laude from The University of North Texas in Denton by 15. He began work on his MBA through Tarleton State and has started his own company, Kidlamity Gaming, which hosts video game tournaments for gamers between the ages of 8 and 17 years old.
Hana finished high school at 12 and is attending Texas Woman’s University in Denton.
Parents, Myiesha Taylor and William Schlitz, said they always wanted to teach their children to honor their brilliance and honor their Blackness.
They frequently tell their children:
“You’ve been blessed with this opportunity to shine. But, the real judgment of each of you is what do you do with this opportunity? That doesn’t mean you have to be Lebron James or President Biden. But, what impact do you make on the world?”
Now, Taylor Schlitz’s hard work has paid off and she will graduate on May 13. And what impact does she plan to make on the world? To work on education policy issues for an elected official or a nonprofit organization. Taylor Schlitz also wants to find a way to increase opportunities for gifted and talented girls and students of color.
Ahead of this weekend's ceremony, Taylor Schlitz also got to meet another graduate making headlines at SMU. At 85, Marillyn Seeberger is graduating with a bachelor's degree in film and media arts and plans to write screenplays.
Seeberger and Taylor Schlitz sat down to talk about each other's journeys. Watch the clip below: