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Teen earns doctorate from Arizona State University Tempe



Dorothy Jean Tillman isn’t your normal 18-year-old. Instead of entering college, she just graduated with a doctorate.

TEMPE, Ariz. — While most 18-year-olds are trying to choose what college to attend, one is wrapping up her college career. Dorothy Jean Tillman stands out this graduation season not just because of her age, but also her list of accomplishments. 

Tillman is a student at Arizona State University. She earned her associate’s degree at just 11 years old. She was 13 when she earned her bachelor’s degree and just 15 when she completed her master’s program. Now 18, Tillman has earned her doctorate in behavioral health. 

“I never really thought that this would be like what it turned into,” Tillman said. “But once I started, you know, getting into higher education, I kind of just, every time I completed something, I thought, like, ‘What’s next?’ And now I’m here. Wow.”

Aside from her numerous degrees, Tillman also started a leadership institute where she teaches children in Chicago and West Africa about science, technology, engineering, arts and math. She hopes to use all that she has learned to change lives. 

“I want to find a way… and start putting maybe integrated behavioral health into schools so people can start learning about such an important thing a lot younger, and that connection a lot younger,” Tillman said. 

Tillman said she is grateful she was able to find an online program through ASU that supported her goals. 

‘It’s normal if, you know, you think you have it figured out, and then you find out shortly after that that may not be the case,” Tillman said. “Pace. It happens a lot throughout life, and it’s just like a part of the process. And to not forget that as you’re going through it.”

More than 20,000 Arizona State University students graduated Monday night, signaling the end of their undergraduate years in college. 7,000, including Tillman, received their postgraduate degrees Monday morning. 

This is the largest graduating class in ASU history. 

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