19-year-old could become the youngest African American law school graduate

Haley Taylor Schlitz is old enough to vote, but not old enough to drink. Soon, though, she could be representing clients in court. At 19 years old, Schlitz is about to become the youngest African American to graduate law school, according to a news release from the university. Taylor Schlitz was accepted into nine different law schools across the country when she was 16 — but she chose to attend Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law.

Haley Taylor Schlitz

SMU’s Dedman School of Law


Taylor Schlitz is set to graduate May 13, and hopes to work on education policy issues for an elected official or nonprofit organization, according to the release, and find ways to expand opportunities for gifted and talented girls and students of color. 

Her path to law school wasn’t conventional. When her previously high grades began to slide in the fifth grade, according to Essence, her parents went to the school to get to the bottom of the swift change. When her mother suggested she was bored and needed more advanced courses, the administration disagreed. Disappointed in the school’s response, her parents decided to home school her.

“I was just being taught to pass the end-of-the-year test to get to the next grade,” she told the Birmingham Times. “I wasn’t being taught to learn.”

Schlitz said on her website she was also not allowed to take the test to enter the gifted program in public schools. Her parents had her privately tested and found she was gifted.

“Many girls and students of color are left out of our nation’s gifted and talented programs,” Taylor Schlitz said in the SMU 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.”

She finished high school when she was only 13 years old. By age 16, she had her undergraduate degree from Texas Woman’s University and was headed to law school. At first, Taylor Schlitz wanted to be a doctor. Then she realized she wanted to fight inequality. Her experience as a person of color who was denied a chance to enter the gifted program “sparked a fire in me,” she told the Birmingham Times.  

Just a year later, in June 2020, Haley was elected to serve as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. At 17, she was one of the youngest delegates at the DNC that year.