May 9, 2022
BY ARIANA GARCIA - CHRON
At just 19-years-old, Hayley Taylor Schlitz is set to become the youngest law school graduate at Southern Methodist University and the youngest Black woman to graduate from law school in the nation.
Three years ago, Schlitz — who hails from Keller, Texas — was accepted to nine law schools, according to an SMU news release. However, she chose to attend the university's Dedman School of Law in Dallas, and ultimately announced the decision on Good Morning America at the time. She told the hosts it was her school of choice because it was close to home and offered her a "nice" scholarship.
While at Dedman, Schlitz flourished as an author, public speaker and advocate for "the issues students of color face in navigating gifted and talented programs in public schools," according to the university.
Before college, Schlitz attended public school until the fifth grade when her parents decided to home school her. They were disappointed with the public school system as Schlitz struggled to be recognized as a gifted student. Racism Schlitz faced while in school also played a role in their decision, she told Essence.
At the age of 13, Schlitz graduated from high school and attended Tarrant County College. She later transferred to Texas Woman's University where she graduated at the age of 16, becoming the youngest graduate on record from the university, according to her website.
Schlitz told SMU that many girls and students of color are left out of gifted and talented programs. "Society will lose out on the potential scientist who cures a major disease, the entrepreneur who starts the next Amazon and so much more," Schlitz said, per SMU. "All because of their gender and/or skin color."
Hailey stated that being homeschooled gave her more time to pursue the things she wanted to accomplish and inspired her to co-publish a book with mother, Dr. Myiesha Taylor, titled "The Homeschool Alternative: Incorporating a Homeschool Mindset for the Benefit of Black Children in America." The book details the mother and daughter's experience as a homeschooling family and provides resources to Black families.
After she graduates on May 13, Schlitz plans to work on education policy issues with the goal of increasing opportunities for gifted and talented girls and students of color. She told Essence she would also like to become a law professor one day.
"I really want to help students realize their potential even if they can't home-school," Schlitz told the Dallas Morning News in 2019. "I want to help families open their eyes to the opportunities that they don't even realize are there."