17-Year-Old Genius Dorothy Jean Tillman II Makes History as Youngest Person to Earn Doctorate From Arizona State University

Also known as “Dorothy Jeanius,” Tillman started college courses at age 10.

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A Chicago-area teen genius just made history.

Dorothy Jean Tillman II, also known as “Dorothy Jeanius,” officially earned her doctorate in integrated behavioral health from Arizona State University at age 17, becoming the youngest person in the university’s history to do so, the Associated Press reports. She attended the commencement ceremony earlier this month.

Tillman told Good Morning America that she had been homeschooled during her early childhood before entering college when she was merely 10 years old. 

Per the AP, Tillman earned her bachelor’s degree in humanities from Excelsior College in New York in 2018.

GMA says Tillman earned a Master of Science degree in 2020 from the Unity College of Maine before being accepted into the Doctorate of Behavioral Health Management program at ASU the following year, at age 15.

"People in my life like my grandmother [Dorothy Tillman], who was part of the Civil Rights movement, she of course harped on the importance of education and consistently learning something always," Tillman told GMA. "But the way I always held education so high on my own, aside from being raised that way, was finding different things to be educated about."

"I feel like that urge to learn something new just never didn't exist for me," she added.

"She really led change and worked on different forms of management to really reduce healthcare stigma and improve that student population there to be able to enter and accept student health services," Dr. Lesley Manson, a clinical associate professor at the university, told GMA. "It was wonderful to see her and help her navigate some of those personal and professional interactions and grow through those experiences."

"It's a wonderful celebration...but this is still something so rare and unique," Dr. Manson added. "She has innovative ideas and motivation, which is wonderful, and truly, I think what is inspiring is that she embodies that meaning of being a true leader."

Despite missing out on typical experiences like homecoming dances, spirit weeks, and other school functions, Tillman told the Associated Press that she found time for dance and choreography and founded the Dorothyjeanius STEAM Leadership Institute, aimed at helping youth in arts and STEM subjects.

As for her next steps, Tillman told GMA she is "just like any other teenager, still figuring out what my specific dreams and goals are."

"I'm really just grateful that the world is my oyster, and that I've done so much so young," she added. "And I have time to kind of think that through."

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