What Had You Accomplished at 19?

Haley Taylor Schlitz, an author, law school grad, prepares for bar exam

Many 19-year-old collegiate students are trying to figure out how to lose the freshman 15 or bring up their grades after too much partying. 

Haley Taylor Schlitz isn’t doing any of that.

“I’ve just got to finish up finals, and then I’ll be studying for the bar in July,” Schlitz said while preparing in May to graduate from SMU’s Dedman School of Law. She has been offered jobs around the country. 

The teen spoke cheerfully – as if it’s normal to be doing all that at such a young age – and explained how she got started early.

“The term finding yourself is completely inaccurate. You don’t walk down the street and find a shell of yourself to jump into. You build yourself and your path.”

Haley Taylor Schlitz

Schlitz was accustomed to getting straight A’s in a typical schooling environment until the fifth grade. When grades began to slip drastically, her mother, Dr. Myiesha Taylor, concluded Schlitz wasn’t being challenged.

Efforts to get Schlitz into higher-paced classes didn’t pan out, so Taylor, who wouldn’t let it go, started homeschooling.

Schlitz thrived when allowed to learn at her own pace, graduated from high school at 13, and enrolled in Texas Woman’s University.

She first wanted to be an emergency room doctor like her mother but switched to education to help prevent others from falling through the cracks of traditional schooling. 

The next step, she decided, was going to law school to prepare for molding education policy. Schlitz graduated at 16 from TWU and was accepted into nine law schools.

At SMU, she had to adapt to not going at her own pace but found the law school program well structured. It never felt like busywork, Schlitz said. 

Outside of classes, she served as one of the youngest delegates at the 2020 Democratic convention. Schlitz also writes opinion columns for such publications as Blavity, Blavity U, and Teen Vogue.

Her hobbies include playing piano – classical and modern pop songs – and spending time with her friends playing video games such as Valorant and watching shows such as Attack on Titan.

From her journey, Schlitz has reached a conclusion she wants to share with others.

“The term finding yourself is completely inaccurate,” she explained. “You don’t walk down the street and find a shell of yourself to jump into. You build yourself and your path.

“You are always adding to yourself, and it should be taken as empowering. You can make yourself into whoever you want to be. I would’ve never found this path with flashing lights and a sign. It was because of what I wanted to pursue; it wasn’t easy, but that’s life.”

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