19-year-old Texan becomes youngest African-American to earn law degree in US

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DALLAS (Nexstar) – A Texas law student is the youngest black student to graduate law school nationwide.

Haley Schlitz walked across the stage to graduate on Friday – making history as the youngest law school graduate at Southern Methodist University.

“I graduated high school at 13, I graduated from undergraduate school at 16,” Schlitz said. “Actually, for a really long time – like the first maybe 12 years, 13 years of my life – I actually wanted to be an ER doctor because my mom is an ER doctor.”

Before deciding what she was going to do and who she was going to be, she had to do some soul-searching. It all started when her parents took her out of public school to educate her at home.

“Throughout fourth year, everything was fine,” Schlitz said.

Soon after, Schlitz said she began facing challenges at her school in Keller, outside of Dallas.

“We also experienced a lot of racism at school,” Schlitz said. “When the teacher was teaching about slavery, other students looking at me said, ‘You know, if we were living in this time, you would be ours.'”

Homeschooling allowed her to accelerate her studies. She decided to pursue law school because she thinks that’s where she can really make an impact.

Now she is well on her way to becoming a licensed attorney.

“I want to get into education politics,” Schlitz said. “I am passionate about racial equity, gender equity, educational equity, teacher diversity, student abuse…microaggressions [awareness].”

Schlitz hopes to participate in legislative work, work alongside elected officials or even associations.

Her drive and drive make her parents proud, though that word doesn’t explain the true extent of their feelings.

“As a parent, the intention was never, ‘Oh, we’re going to make her this superstar,’ or make her the path she ended up blazing for herself,” the father of Haley, William Schlitz, holding back tears. “I remember holding her [when she was born] and whispering to him, ‘Haley, the world is yours. You just do what you want, little girl, daddy’s gonna be there. And we are on this journey. And as long as I can ride with you, I will ride with you.

Now Schlitz just wants to leave its mark.

“Eating, ‘no’ to breakfast, not letting people tell me what I can and can’t do,” she said. “They don’t know me, I know myself. I just hope a story like mine inspires other people to really, really take matters into their own hands.

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