Chicago Teen Dorothy Jean Tillman II, DBH, Makes History

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“Dorothy Jean Tillman II Graduates from Arizona State University on May 6 2024 with a doctoral degree in Integrated Behavioral Health Management”

On May 6, 2024, Dorothy Jean Tillman II walked across the stage at Arizona State University (ASU), making history as the youngest person in the country to earn a doctoral degree.

A Chicago native, Tillman began taking college classes at age 10. She earned her associate degree from College of Lake County in 2016, her bachelor’s from Excelsior University in 2018, and her master’s in 2020 from Unity College. In 2021, at 15 years old, she was accepted into ASU’s doctoral program for integrated behavioral health.

Successfully defending her dissertation in December 2023 as the youngest environmental and sustainability scientist in the country, Tillman is now the nation’s youngest Doctor of Behavioral Health Management.

ASU associate professor Leslie Manson, who oversaw Tillman’s dissertation, said to the Guardian, “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.”

Tillman is celebrating her accomplishment with a virtual graduation fundraising campaign supporting program operations, supplies, and scholarships for the DorothyJeanius STEAM Leadership Institute in Chicago. The institute, of which Tillman is founder and CEO, provides pathways for disadvantaged youth to follow their dreams through STEAM programming. Those that wish to support her efforts can find the Amazon wish list here.

In an interview with Good Morning America, Tillman credited much of her success to the encouragement of her family and said of her next steps, “I’m really just grateful that the world is my oyster, and that I’ve done so much so young, And I have time to kind of think that through.”