If you were to describe Haley Taylor Schlitz, in some ways you could say she’s just the average 19-year-old who uses downtime to play with friends in her childhood bedroom.
But in other ways, Haley’s life is far from normal as she lives at a pace that exceeds expectations.
“When I graduate on May 13, I will be the youngest woman in the history of the nation to graduate from law school, the youngest African American to graduate from law school,” Taylor Schlitz said. .
She will also be SMU’s youngest law graduate. And once she passes the bar, she will become the first Gen Z lawyer.
So how did she get here?
“In CM2, we already had a lot of problems with the school. Lots of day-to-day microaggressions with teachers and peers, lots of blatant racism,” she said.
After a teacher told Haley’s mother, Myisha Taylor, that she should consider retaining her daughter, Taylor made the decision to remove Haley from the public school system.
“People told us we were crazy,” Taylor said.
“I was one of those who told her she was crazy,” Haley’s father, William Schlitz, said.
But with a home school program and the help of tutors, Haley thrived, graduating from high school two years later at age 13.
“It kind of took off from there. I did my undergrad in three years and graduated at 16,” Taylor Schlitz said.
His siblings have been on their own accelerated path with 16-year-old Ian currently pursuing his MBA and 14-year-old Hanna enrolled as a junior at TWU.
“We didn’t try to rush them. It’s just when you get to the end of the book, are you just saying it’s only December, so we’re not going to do anything until next school year? No, you say, let’s get book two and get book 3,” Taylor said.
Essentially, creating their own roadmap.
“If parents would listen to us and say what advice do you have is to step aside and stop putting your child in the box you think they should be in based on a number and see what that is happening. See what happens when your child is just allowed to explore and thrive,” Schlitz said.
Soon, Haley’s path may come full circle.
After passing the bar, she hopes to pursue a career first in teaching and then in education policy to help reshape the system she has struggled to fit into.
“I think I’ve really had the opportunity to have the impact that I want to have on the world,” she said.
She hopes others will see her story as an inspiration to chart their own path.
“Your journey will be different from mine, but I hope these journeys you hear inspire you to not eat breakfast, to understand that these cookie-cutter systems that are in place right now, the system Public school being one of many, isn’t necessarily going to work for you, especially if you’re not cookie dough,” Taylor Schlitz said.