Chicago 14-Year-Old with Three College Degrees Founds Her Own Company

A Chicago teenager who received her associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees all before the age of 14 has founded her own company to encourage students to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM).

Dorothy Jean Tillman had a thirst for knowledge that began at a very young age.

“For me, I had always been really advanced and I was enrolled in a gifted kids’ school where I may be at the fourth-grade level doing sixth to eighth-grade work on a daily basis,” Tillman told WGN.

The child prodigy, who goes by the nickname Dorothy Jeanius in her family circles, earned her associate’s degree at the age of ten from the College of Lake County.

By the time she was 12, she had earned her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and humanities through an online program from Excelsior College in New York.

At that time, Tillman began to take an interest in the environment.

“I was thinking about Coral Reefs and plastic straws and things like that that might have been on social media,” Tillman said.

Two years later, Tillman earned a master’s degree in environmental science from Unity College in Unity, Maine. After she completed her degree, she became the youngest environmental scientist in the U.S.

Now, Tillman is the CEO of her own organization.

She created the Dorothy Jeanius STEAM Educational Leadership Institute in 2020 to encourage students to get excited about learning and develop a passion for STEAM.

Tillman hosts “STEAM camps” on Chicago’s South Side, where on one day, students could learn how to extract DNA from an orange, and the next day they could be rehearsing a dance routine for an upcoming performance.

Even the coronavirus has not set Tillman back. She created at-home kits to keep students engaged through different enrichment programs and is sending those kits around the world.

Tillman believes that learning should be fun and hopes her approach can captivate students around the world.

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