Chicago Teen Earns Master’s Degree in Environmental Science at 14

Obtaining a master’s degree is a big accomplishment and it can sometimes require years of experience in addition to smarts to get into a reputable graduate school program. One Chicago teenager defied all the odds and recently graduated with her master’s degree at the age of 14.

Dorothy Jean Tillman has always been interested in the STEM field and excelled in those subjects in school. Recently, she gained notoriety on social media celebrating the recent milestone of graduating with her degree in sustainable science and environmental planning. In an interview with Rolling Out, Tillman describes her passion for STEM and how it has shaped her journey in education.

“I’ve been working on STEM labs for kids because I really want to go into the STEM-related field and work with kids. I love helping kids have bright futures,” said Tillman to Rolling Out. “I feel like I’m here to make people happy and to help people find their purpose. I know I want to go into that field, but I’m definitely sticking on the path of my engineering degree. I might go back to school, but my plan is to be an entrepreneur and [use] my engineering degree.”

Tillman started high school at the age of 9. “By the time I was 12, I had my bachelor’s in humanities,” she continued. “Now I’m getting [confirmed] for my masters in August. The graduation was in May, but with quarantine, [now] August.”

She also offered advice to other students looking to excel in school, encouraging young people to learn their strengths and use them to their advantage. “I know, one thing that I would want every kid to know, is that what I did is an option and that they can do it too,” said Tillman. “It doesn’t take a genius or someone who has been learning forever. I’m not perfect. I’m not the smartest person in the world. It just takes dedication.”

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Dana Givens
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