Barely old enough to drive, grad is on path to PhD

Hana Taylor Schlitz in her graduation stole and a TWU sweatshirt.

To the casual observer, Hana Taylor Schlitz may look awfully young to be a college graduate.

That’s because she is.

Hana, who graduated May 10 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Texas Woman’s University, just turned 16 years old in February.  

That now makes her the youngest known person to earn a degree from Texas Woman’s. Interestingly, the person who previously held that distinction was Haley Taylor Schlitz, Hana’s big sister, who graduated at 16 years and nine months in 2019.

In some ways, Hana followed an academic path not unlike that of Haley and her older brother, Ian. All three completed high school around 12 years old and enrolled in universities when they were 13. To say these siblings are driven is an understatement. Haley graduated from law school and is now a lawyer, and Ian graduated from UNT and operates his own video game business.

In April, Hana was accepted into Texas Woman’s PhD program in sociology, and an essay she wrote was published in Newsweek. While she has additional years of study to pinpoint a career path, she knows she would like to raise awareness about – and help eradicate – tuberculosis.

Hana was born in a southern village in Ethiopia and her biological mother died of the deadly disease shortly after Hana was born. Hana herself was stricken with TB and hospitalized after she was adopted and brought to the United States by her parents, William Schlitz and Dr. Myiesha Taylor.

Hana Taylor Schlitz and her family.

After overcoming the disease, Hana began to thrive, much the same way her older siblings have. Hana was homeschooled, and after completing high school she enrolled at Tarrant Community College and later transferred to TWU. She continued to excel here, being inducted into four different honors organizations, including Phi Beta Kappa and the National Society of Leadership and Success.

Knowing the devastating effects tuberculosis can have on developing countries, Hana said she wants to pursue a career aimed at ending TB’s grip on communities, such as the one in which she was born. 

“I am acutely aware that my story is the exception rather than the rule,” Hana wrote in an essay published April 25 in Newsweek. “It reinforces my commitment to advocate for those who are still caught in the relentless cycle of this preventable disease.”

Hana says she feels a calling to not only save lives from the deadly disease, but to usher in generations of new leaders who may bring about positive change.

To that casual observer who may have seen a teenager crossing a stage for a diploma, it could very well be even more breathtaking to see what she does next.

Media Contact

Matt Flores
Assistant Vice President, University Communications

Page last updated 10:32 AM, May 10, 2024