WATCH: Haley Schlitz to Become the Youngest Law School Graduate of Color in America

WATCH: Haley Schlitz to Become the Youngest Law School Graduate of Color in America

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Here’s some excellent news that’ll help inspire and give hope to individuals who are often told they can’t do things. Hayley Taylor Schlitz was in 5th grade when her typical high grades began to drop. Her mom, Dr. Myiesha Taylor, realized she was a star understudy, and her “I don’t care” reaction to her plummeting reports wasn’t cutting it. So, Dr. Taylor went to the school’s administration to get to the heart of the matter.

She suspected her little girl wasn’t getting enough engagement in classes and needed progressed courses. Instead, she was met with resistance from both the school’s head and an instructor.

“She started with the teacher and asked if I could be tested for the gifted talent program. The teacher denied it, saying how I did on Texas’s standardized pre-STAAR and TAKSd tests. I didn’t do well,” Taylor Schlitz says. The girl’s mother was also told she might need to be held back. The principal then added she couldn’t be tested for the gifted program because testing was only for kindergartners. “Of course, that’s not true,” Taylor Schiltz remarks.

Racism appeared to be the hidden reason, and this wasn’t the first time she’d confronted it. Once, the school put on a play called “Northern Aggression” and had her depict a mixed-race slave. In another occurrence, during a lesson on slavery, a white student went to Taylor and said, “You know, if we lived back in that time, I would own you.”

Sick and tired of the public school system, Dr. Taylor chose to homeschool her little girl, and in less than two years, Taylor Schlitz had graduated from high school. This year, she’s leaving a mark on the world as the youngest Black lady in history to graduate from law school in America. She’s on track to earn her Juris Doctor degree from SMU Dedman School of Law.

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For decades, minority students and students of color in the United States have lagged in academic achievement. In 2014, the high school graduation rate of Black students was only 73%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. However, the statistics between different races in schools nowadays are closing gaps, and we are finding more and more individuals such as Haley spring up successfully.

This is not to say that the minorities do not wrestle with tough times today. For example, in April 2022, Black students of Lubbock, Texas’ Laura Bush Middle School were designated “monkeys” on social media through an online account dedicated to harassing the school’s Black understudies. 

In 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law limiting how recent events and the history of America’s prejudice could mesh into a school’s curriculum. As a result, the Black understudies will consistently be forced to deal with unfriendly learning conditions. Schlitz, 19, wants to change that. 

Taylor wasn’t generally intrigued by law. She concentrated on science during her first year of undergrad and half of her subsequent year. Then, some soul-finding implored her to change the school system considering all she and her family endured. This change led her to become an education major and focus on becoming a teacher. She then realized she could likewise safeguard other students by pursuing law since she sees teaching as a way to impact the institution from the inside and the law to transform it from the outside.

“I either want to go into public policy, educational policy, or go into teaching in my near future,” she says. “In the long run, I know that I want to be a law professor one day.”

With respect to her historical accomplishment, Taylor Schlitz’s family found she could leave her mark after she’d done press around entering law school. They investigated young Americans who had graduated from law school and found the youngest was Stephen A. Baccus, who graduated from the University of Miami School of Law at only 16 years old. They let the young lady know what she could achieve if she finished. Reproducing their reaction, she said, “Holy cow. If you finish this law degree, you’ll be making history.” She was already headstrong and determined to graduate; however, she considers the momentous moment the “sprinkle on the cake.”

“I just always live by the motto that you don’t find your path, you make it,” Taylor Schlitz says. “So don’t let anybody else tell you what you can’t do.”