18-Year-Old Girl Gets Top School Degree in Arizona
Dorothy Jean Tillman II participates in Arizona State University’s commencement, May 6, 2024, in Tempe, Ariz. Tillman, 18, earned her doctoral degree in integrated behavioral health in December at age 17 from the school. Tillman, of Chicago, began taking college courses at age 10. She earned her associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees before she turned 17. (Tillman Family via AP)

18-Year-Old Girl Gets Top School Degree in Arizona

May 14th, 2024

A young girl named Dorothy Jean Tillman II is very smart. She started college classes when she was 10 years old. She is from Chicago. Now, she is 18 years old and finished her biggest school degree. We call this a doctoral degree. She did this in Arizona. Dorothy was the youngest one to get this big degree in health at her school. People call her "Dorothy Jeanius." She did a lot of school work on her computer. But she went to her school in Arizona for a special day. It was a day for students who finished their degrees. Dorothy talked to everyone on this day. Dorothy thanks her mom and grandmother for helping her learn. She didn't go to dances or have pictures like other kids. But she likes to dance and she helps other kids learn about arts and science. She wants to talk to people and make her camp for kids bigger. Dorothy is a leader and has new ideas. Her mom is happy because Dorothy works hard at school and knows when to say no to fun to study. Dorothy teaches us that we can do big things if we work hard.
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💭 Discussion Questions

. How old was Dorothy when she started college classes?
. What big school degree did Dorothy finish?
. What are the two things Dorothy likes to do besides studying?

📖 Vocabulary

🌐 Cultural context

Dorothy Jean Tillman II is from Chicago, a big city in the United States. She went to college early and finished her highest degree at a young age. Chicago is known for its schools and universities. She also mentions a graduation day, which is a common ceremony in American education to celebrate students completing their degrees.

🧠 Further reading

Child prodigy
Some children are very, very good at things like a grown-up. These children are called child prodigies. They can do important work before they are ten years old. They are very talented in music, art, math, or chess. People sometimes call these children "wonder child." This name is for kids who are very successful when they are young. These smart children often remember things well and pay close attention to little details. If a child is really good at math, they might have a very high IQ. But if a child is really good at art, having a high IQ might not help as much. Let's talk about chess. Chess prodigies practice a lot. They learn chess early and work hard. They play chess a lot and get really good. But they need to practice the right way. All children are different. Some are more interested in chess than others. Children who are good at chess might also be very smart. They are good at thinking fast and seeing things in their mind. They can focus on small details. But talking about things might not be their strongest skill.

Academic achievement
In school, we learn many things. How good we are at school is called "academic achievement." This means if we can do our school work well. We can show we are good by finishing big goals like graduating high school or college. Sometimes, we take tests to show how much we know. But people don't always agree on the best way to see if we are doing well in school. They also don't know why some students do better than others. Things like feeling scared about tests, where we study, how much we want to do well, and how we feel can make a difference. In a place called California, they look at how good schools are by using something called the Academic Performance Index. Why do some kids do better at school? It can be because they are very smart or they really want to do a good job. Being curious and wanting to learn new things can also help. When we are little, our parents help us learn at home. This is good for when we go to school. What our parents do and say can help us do better in school. They help us learn how to act, how to think about school, and how to use our skills.

National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth
Long ago, there was a special place for very smart kids. It was at a big school called the University of Warwick. It started in the year 2002 and stopped in the year 2007. Smart kids, aged 11 to 19, did extra fun learning things there. Any smart kid who was in the top 5% could join. There were four parts to this special place. One part helped the kids learn. Another part helped teachers learn how to teach smart kids. The third part helped other people who work with smart kids. The last part learned about the best ways to teach smart kids. After five years, the people who started this place decided to do something new. So, the people at the big school made a new place for the smart kids. It is a club where smart kids from all over the world between 13 and 18 can talk to each other. At first, to join the special place, kids had to show many things they did well, like awards or good work. But this changed over time.