Tillman, the granddaughter of former Alderwoman Dorothy Tillman, earned her bachelor’s degree at the age of 12 and her master’s degree at the age of 14. While her peers applied to colleges, Tillman successfully defended her dissertation recently to get a doctorate in integrated mental health.
The teen genius told Fox32Chicago, “I feel like it takes good resources and a good team, which I will always praise Arizona State for.”
Tillman’s research highlighted the positive outcomes seen at schools implementing mental health programs. She explained that “[Having a mental health issue] doesn’t make you crazy. It doesn’t make you any of these negative things; it just makes you human.”
She has not made up her mind about what to do with her degree, but she thinks it will be entrepreneurial and deal with the current mental health crisis. Her short-term goals include traveling and world-exploring.
The tech and arts enthusiast also intends to spend time with her peers and even attend prom this spring. She shared, “I have best friends that are still in high school, and I kind of live vicariously through them.”
She also plans to travel to Tempe, Arizona, this spring to receive her doctoral diploma with the rest of her graduating class at ASU.
She wrote on Instagram “I am now Dr. Dorothy Jean Tillman, DBH, since successfully defending my dissertation last week. I’m looking forward to participating in commencement activities at ASU in Phoenix next May. 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, who is also a young entrepreneur, is focused on the summer camp she founded four years ago, which offers Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) curriculum to 9 to 14-year-olds in Bronzeville.
“A lot of people are used to STEM camps, which is just science, technology, engineering and math. But I felt like that right brain/left brain dynamic was never explored in a lot of programs I had been put in, so I wanted to create my own program,” she remarked.