Young Prodigy Dr. Dorothy Jean Tillman Earns Doctorate at 17

At 10-years-old, Dorothy Jean Tillman earned her associate’s degree. At 12, she received her bachelor’s. At 14, her Master’s. And most recently, the 17-year-old Chicago native, the granddaughter of former Alderwoman Dorothy Tillman, just earned her doctorate from Arizona State University. 

“I am now Dr. Dorothy Jean Tillman, DBH, since successfully defending my dissertation last week,” Tillman wrote in a recent Instagram post.


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A post shared by Dr. Dorothy Jean Tillman II (@dorothyjeanius)


“I have so many people to thank for supporting me on this journey, but for now, I’ll just say thank you to my No. 1 champion, my Mom, @jimalita!” 

Tillman said the research for her dissertation was on how schools can realize positive outcomes by incorporating mental health programs. 

She added that having issues with mental health “doesn’t make you crazy” but that “it just makes you human.”

Having achieved so much already when her peers are just preparing to go off to college, Tillman instead has her sights set on becoming an entrepreneur and doing work that addresses mental health and wellness. 

Tillman already operates a four-year-old summer camp that provides a comprehensive curriculum encompassing Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) to children 9-14 in the Bronzeville community on the South Side.

Her immediate future, she told Chicago’s Fox 32, involves travel. 

“I’m definitely going to take time to learn more about myself and to explore the world,” she said.

And speaking of her peers, she also plans to hang out with kids her age. 


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