DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) A Texas woman is making history this weekend.
Haley Taylor Schlitz, 19, is graduating this Saturday from Southern Methodist University.
“It’s just too perfect, I’m excited,” Schlitz said. “It feels really real now.”
The North Texas native is making national history.
“This image of this young black woman in America, in the state of Texas, getting ready to walk across the stage and make history, not only as the youngest black law graduate in the history of this country, but also as the youngest woman in this country to walk across the stage and get his JD,” said his father, William Schlitz.
Haley has been making national headlines since her story was shared throughout the University, from CNN to the Tamron Hall show.
“It feels great,” Haley said. “Not only does it feel good to be recognized for the achievement, but it also feels good to be able to spread the word about my story. I really hope to inspire anyone who hears my story.”
Haley doesn’t get all the credit for this achievement. She credits her family, friends, and mentors for all of her help.
“I think one of the biggest things that has kept me inspired is my town. You know, you never get anywhere alone,” Haley said. “My mother is one of my greatest trees in my entire forest and she is a great inspiration, a great supporter, a great advisor and literally the real reason I am here.”
Her parents say they couldn’t be more proud that their daughter is shattering perceptions about black women and men.
“Watching her shatter perceptions of what black students can do and what their full potential is,” William said, “I think she’s making a very powerful statement.”
Schlitz said he didn’t always want to go to law school.
“I just looked back a little bit on my own journey, what had happened and how I can really use that to improve the education system for the students who come after me,” he said. “So I changed my major to education, got my bachelor’s degree in education, and then went to law school so I could write policy on education.”
His trip included many “we’s”.
“There were a lot of people trying to tell me ‘no’ in public school and throughout my journey, but that was definitely something I faced in public school. I couldn’t evaluate gifted programs, [faced] constant acts of racism and microaggressions, and it was a lot,” Schlitz said.
That’s when her parents stepped in and she began studying at home instead of public school.
“When school wasn’t running, I realized we had to go in a different direction, so she’s the one that’s been pushing us and growing us as parents,” said Haley’s mother, Myiesha Taylor.
Fast forward, she graduated from high school at 13 and went to law school around 16. Now, she’s a graduate of SMU’s Dedman Law School.
“I think we’re both in awe like, ‘Wow, this is really happening.’ She’s doing this, she’s crazy,” William said.
“Just excited, proud,” Taylor said. “She is a phenomenal woman and I am very excited for her future.”
Haley has a message for anyone younger than her who might hear her story.
“Anyone listening to me, but particularly students of color and girls, should know that you should eat ‘us’ for breakfast, don’t let other people tell you how you should build your path. Don’t let other people tell you what what you can and can’t do.
Next, you have to prepare for the bar exam in July. Later, she said that she wants to dig deeper into education policy, either by working with a nonprofit organization or an elected official. Or, she can dedicate herself to teaching. Her opportunities are endless for her.