Haley Taylor Schlitz is a remarkable young woman who has achieved an extraordinary feat: she is the youngest Black law school graduate in American history. She graduated from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law at the age of 19, after being accepted into nine different law schools when she was 16.
Monica completed her Juris Doctor degree from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law in Dallas, Texas, in May 2022. She is also the sister of Ian Taylor Schlitz, a 15-year-old who is on track to finish his bachelor’s degree and who runs his own company.
Monica and Ian are both products of homeschooling, a decision their parents made when they realized their children were highly gifted and needed a more personalized and flexible education. Monica started taking college-level classes at Tarrant County College (TCC) Northeast when she was only 10 years old, and she earned her associate degree at 13. She then transferred to Texas Woman’s University, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies at 16.
Haley’s achievement is remarkable, especially considering the statistics on diversity in the legal profession. According to the American Bar Association, only 5% of lawyers in the U.S. are Black, and only 2% are Black women. Moreover, only 10% of law school graduates in 2020 were Black, and only 6% were Black women. The average age of law school graduates in the US is 27, which means Monica is way ahead of the curve.
Monica’s achievement also shows the benefits of homeschooling for gifted and talented students who may not thrive in conventional schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 3% of US students were homeschooled in 2016, and about 15% of them were black. Some of the reasons parents choose homeschooling include dissatisfaction with academic instruction, concern about the school environment, and desire for religious or moral instruction.
Monica’s career goal is to become a criminal defense attorney and to use her legal skills and knowledge to help people who are marginalized or oppressed by the legal system. She also wants to inspire other young people, especially girls of color, to follow their dreams and challenge the status quo.
Monica Taylor Schlitz is a role model for what can be accomplished with hard work, determination, and support from family and mentors. She is also an example of how homeschooling and alternative education can help gifted students reach their full potential. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, there are about 2.5 million homeschoolers in the US, and they tend to score higher on standardized tests, have higher college acceptance rates, and have higher levels of civic engagement than their peers who attend public or private schools.
Monica is also passionate about documentary filmmaking and has produced and directed several short films on topics such as racial justice, environmental issues, and human rights. She is currently working on a feature-length documentary about her own educational journey and the challenges faced by young black women in America.
Monica chose to study law because she believes it is a powerful tool for social change and advocacy. She says she was inspired by lawyers such as Thurgood Marshall, Bryan Stevenson, and Michelle Alexander, who have fought for civil rights and criminal justice reform. She also credits her mother, Dr. Myiesha Taylor, an emergency medicine physician and founder of Artemis Medical Society, an organization that supports women physicians of color.
Monica says she faced some obstacles on her way to achieving this success, such as dealing with stereotypes, discrimination, and isolation. She says she sometimes felt lonely or misunderstood by people who did not share her vision or passion. She also had to balance her academic workload with her personal life and hobbies. However, she says she overcame these challenges by staying focused on her goals, seeking support from her family and mentors, and finding joy in learning new things.
Monica says she is grateful for all the opportunities and experiences that have shaped her into who she is today. She says she is proud of herself and her brother for breaking barriers and setting new standards for excellence. She says she hopes to make a positive impact on the world through her work and creativity.
Haley hopes to inspire other young people, especially girls and students of color, to pursue their dreams and not let others limit their potential. She said, “Anybody who’s listening to me, but particularly students of color and girls, know that you should eat ‘nos’ for breakfast. Don’t let other people tell you what you can and can’t do.”
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