JD Journal has a look into the events that motivated Cortlan Wickliff, while still in elementary school, to decide on a three-degree plan to learn everything necessary to develop medical technology after the death of his father from a heart attack.
While most 22 year-olds are struggling to find work after completing college, Cortlan Wickliff will be taking the bar exam. Wickliff graduated from Harvard Law School earlier this year, and is one of the youngest black students to graduate from the program.
A prodigy from an early age, Wickliff was brought along to Masters level business classes by his mother, Tanya Dugat Wickliff, when he was ten years old because she could not afford a babysitter. He began to participate in class discussions, and even began offering advice in her study groups.
A profile of Wickliff in today’s Boston Globe revealed that he demonstrated incredible aptitude at an early age, and while in elementary school, decided on a three-degree business plan for his future. When his father died of a heart attack when Wickliff was ten, the young man decided that he wanted to develop small medical technology that would allow doctors a greater freedom of movement. In order to make his dream a reality, Wickliff decided that he would need an undergraduate engineering degree, a business or law degree, and a PhD. At only 22, Wickliff is more than two thirds through his agenda.
When he was in high school, Wickliff learned of a program at the University of North Texas that allowed high-achieving students to live on campus, take college courses, and earn college credit. Wickliff signed up, left home, and then transferred to Rice, where he completed his engineering degree by the time he was 19. He was then accepted to Harvard Law School.
The age gap between Wickliff and his fellow law students was not a big deal, and the young graduate said that his biggest challenge was the way that law is taught. “Being at a school where there aren’t any right answers when you have been in engineering or science classes, that’s a bit strange,” said Wickliff. “School was different because of my engineering background, being from the South, being from Texas, rather than different because of my age.”
Harvard Law School has no age requirement for admission, as long as the student has strong test scores and grades. The average age of students graduating in 2013 is 27.
Wickliff described his college experience as pretty typical, though he told the Globe that his friends either didn’t realize or forgot how young he was. He would frequently turn down invites to social events held at bars near the campus because he was not old enough to drink.
This fall, Wickliff will pursue his PhD at Texas A&M University, his mother’s Alma mater.
Cortlan Wickliff Graduates Harvard Law at 22 by Andrew Ostler
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