DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM A Texas woman is making history this weekend.
Haley Taylor Schlitz, 19, graduated from Southern Methodist University this Saturday.
“It’s just too perfect, I’m excited,” Schlitz said. “It’s really real now.”
The North Texas native is writing national history.
“This image of this young black woman in America, in the state of Texas, is about to cross the stage and go down in history, not only as the youngest black law graduate in the history of this country, but also as the youngest woman in this country to cross the stage and get her JD,” said father, William Schlitz.
Haley has been making national headlines since her story was shared by the University, from CNN to the Tamron Hall show.
“It’s 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 share my story. I really hope to inspire everyone who hears my story.”
Haley doesn’t take full credit for this accomplishment. She thanks her family, friends and mentors for all their help.
“I think one of the biggest things that inspired me was my village. You know, you never come alone,” Haley said. “My mom is one of the tallest and tallest trees in my entire forest and she’s a huge inspiration, a great supporter, a great advisor and literally the real reason I’m here.”
Her parents say they couldn’t be prouder as their daughter shatters perceptions around black women and men.
“To see her shatter perceptions of what black students can do and their full potential,” William said, “I think that’s a very powerful statement that she makes.”
Schlitz said she didn’t always want to go to law school.
“I just kind of thought back to my own journey, what I had been through and how I can really use that to improve the education system for the students who follow me,” she said. declared. “So I changed my major to education, got my undergraduate degree in education, then went to law school so I could write education policy.”
His journey included a lot of no’s.
“There were a lot of people trying to say ‘no’ to me in public school and throughout my career, but it was definitely something that I faced in public school. I didn’t could not test the talented programs, [faced] constant acts of racism and microaggressions, and that was just a lot,” Schlitz said.
That’s when her parents stepped in and she started homeschooling instead of public school.
“When school wasn’t working, I realized we had to go in a different direction, so she was the one who guided us and made us grow as parents,” said Haley’s mother, Myiesha. Taylor.
Fast forward, she graduated from high school at age 13 and went to law school around age 16. She is now a graduate of SMU’s Dedman Law School.
“I think we’re both in awe, ‘wow this is really happening’. She’s doing this, it’s crazy,” William said.
“Just excited, proud,” Taylor said. “She’s a phenomenal woman and I’m so excited for her future.”
Haley has a message for anyone younger than her who might hear her story.
“Anyone who listens to me, but especially students of color and girls, know that you should eat ‘no’ for breakfast, don’t let others tell you how you should build your path. Don’t let others tell you say what you can and cannot do.”
Next, she must prepare for the bar exam in July. Further down the line, she says she wants to take an interest in education policy, whether it’s working with a nonprofit or an elected official. Or, she can go into teaching. The opportunities are endless for her.