14-year-old Dorothy Jean Tillman has been hunger for knowledge since a 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 4th grade level doing 6th to 8th grade work on a daily basis,” Tillman told WGTV 9. Tillman family calls her Dorothy Jeanius or DJ for good reason.
At 10, Tillman earned an Associates’ Degree from the College of Lake County, before she received a Bachelor’s Degree in liberal arts and humanities from Excelsior College in New York via an online learning program at 12. Tillman gained a 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.
Now two years later Tillman has received a Masters Degree in environmental science from Unity College in Unity, Maine. making her the youngest environmental and sustainable scientist in the United States. Now she is the CEO of her own company. The Dorothy Jeanius STEAM Educational Leadership Institute was created in 2020 to help students to learn and get excited about STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.
“A lot of people don’t want to just sit at a science table, they don’t want to be a physician, they just want to dance,” Tillman said.
Tillman hosts “STEAM camps” at the Harold Washington Cultural Center in the South Side Chicago where students learn and experiment with all aspects of STEAM.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tillman put together at-home kits to help students stay engaged at home.
“There’s courses, there’s different modules to work through, there’s worksheets for all different ages,” Tillman said. Tillman is now sending her kits across the world, after being inspired from a trip to Cape Town, South Africa.
“We are sending our STEAM kits to Africa, so everything we do here in person at the camp we put in a little box to send down there,” Tillman said.