Haley Taylor Schlitz, a Keller native, is SMU’s youngest law graduate. She’s just 19.
Updated: May 28, 2022
May 19, 2022
BY JESSIKA HARKAY - FORT WORTH STAR TELEGRAM
At 13 years old, Keller native Haley Taylor Schlitz graduated from high school, and now at the age of 19, she’s the youngest graduate from Southern Methodist University’s law school and the youngest African-American law school graduate in the United States.
Schiltz began homeschooling in fifth grade after struggles to be acknowledged as a gifted student in the public school system. A news release from SMU said that home-schooling “gave her more time to pursue the things she wanted to accomplish,” pushing for an accelerated program that allowed her to graduate high school at 13.
“Many girls and students of color are left out of our nation’s gifted and talented programs,” Schlitz said in the release. “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.”
In 2019, Schlitz, who was 16 at the time, was accepted to nine law schools and chose to study at SMU’s Dedman School of Law. After she walked the stage on Friday, she now plans to work on education policy issues for an elected official or nonprofit organization, SMU said.
“Haley is also interested in increasing the opportunities for gifted and talented girls and students of color,” the news release said.
The young teen first started her collegiate career at Tarrant County College’s Northeast campus. After spending a year at TCC, the then 14-year-old transferred to Texas Woman’s University, after being accepted to 15 undergraduate programs.
The teenager chose TWU for its mission statement “Educate a woman, empower the world,” and used her experience where she was denied testing for gifted-and-talented programs to choose an interdisciplinary studies major within TWU’s College of Professional Education.
At TWU, Schlitz was selected to be one of 15 students who were part of the college’s Representation Project’s Global Youth Advisory Council, where she “helped create and lead campaigns to engage youth on addressing social stereotypes women face in our world,” TWU said.
“Haley’s work was recognized by the organization and she was selected to serve as the MC for their yearly fundraising gala in San Francisco, California,” a news release from the university continued.
Schlitz went on to serve on the university’s student senate and represented the College of Professional Education.
“As a Student Senator, Haley led the effort to rewrite and strengthen the TWU Student Government Association Constitution and the Student Senate’s Bylaws,” TWU said. “Additionally, Haley led the fight in the Student Senate to build a coalition to publicly support DACA students and their families.”
The teen also was the youngest delegate to the Texas Democratic Party convention, where she introduced now Vice President Kamala Harris at an event in Tarrant County. The 19-year-old also served as a keynote speaker at the National Association For Gifted Children Convention in November, advocating for diversity in advanced programs and “how crucial it was to expand beyond stereotypes for students of color.”
“Haley focused on the need to stop seeing students of color as a problem and start seeing them for their full potential to be the solution to many of the crucial issues that face our world,” TWU said.
At the age of 16, Schlitz graduated from Texas Woman’s University, the university’s youngest graduate on record, and spoke at her graduation ceremony.