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Dorothy Jean Tillman II Earns Doctorate Degree At 17-Years-Old

Dorothy Jean Tillman II, a Chicago teen, began her college journey at age 10. By 17, she had earned a doctoral degree in integrated behavioral health from Arizona State University, becoming the youngest person to achieve this.  Also nicknamed "Dorthy Jeanius," her education path included associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees. Known as "Dorothy Jeanius" by family and friends, she was inspired by her grandmother, former Chicago Alderwoman Dorothy Tillman.

Tillman started college courses at the College of Lake County, Illinois, and earned an associate's degree in 2016. She then earned a bachelor's in humanities from Excelsior College in 2018 and a master's from Unity College in 2020 before entering Arizona State's Behavioral Health Management Program in 2021. Most of her coursework was completed online, but she attended her Arizona State commencement in person and addressed her graduating class.

"I didn't have the everyday school things like homecoming dances or spirit weeks or just school pictures and things like that ... that kind of create unity with my peers," Tillman said though she finds time to participate in activities like dance and choreography.

Tillman founded the Dorothyjeanius STEAM Leadership Institute, offering summer camps for young people in arts and STEM. Tillman plans to expand her institute, engage in public speaking, and fundraise for the camp.

Her mother, Jimalita Tillman, praised Dorothy's grace and determination in balancing social activities with her educational goals. Associate professor Leslie Manson described her as a true leader, hoping she inspires other students.

"It's a wonderful celebration, and we hope ... that Dorothy Jean inspires more students," Manson said. "But this is still something so rare and unique."

Link: NBCNews 


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