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Black students are reaching new heights in academia. According to People, 14-year-old Dorothy Jean Tillman recently earned a master’s degree in environmental science and sustainable engineering from Unity College.

The Chicago teen’s accomplishment symbolizes the hard work and dedication that she’s put in along her impressive academic journey. As a youngster, Tillman attended specialized schools for gifted children. At the age of 8, she started taking high school courses as part of a dual enrollment program. By the age of 10, she earned an associate’s degree in psychology from the College of Lake County and a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Excelsior College two years after.

Tillman’s excellence spans beyond the classroom; outside of academics, she is involved in several extra-curricular activities. The teen—who wants to pursue a career in STEM—is working on bringing STEM labs to underprivileged girls in Cape Town, South Africa. Tillman is also involved in several arts organizations that include the Harold Washington Cultural Center where she serves as a student ambassador and a dance group dubbed The Happiness Club.

Her determination is what fuels her passion for achieving greatness. “To get where you want to be, you have to be dedicated,” she said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “I need to be determined. I need to have tunnel vision to get to where I want to be. I need to be able to communicate my goals,’ and things like that.”

Tillman’s mother Jimalita Tillman is beyond proud of her achievements. “I’m very proud of her and I’m proud of the example that she’s leaving behind,” she said.

Amid graduation season, there have been many inspiring stories surrounding the accomplishments of Black graduates. Massachusetts teen Roberta Hannah was accepted into all eight Ivy League schools.


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