Winter 2002

Teen graduate took the fast track through law school
Nathan Schlicher '00
Nathan Schlicher '00 stands in the law office he works in. He plans continuing practicing law part-time while in medical school at the University of Washington

Nathan Schlicher ’00 had a great college experience at PLU: He enjoyed residence hall life in Stuen Hall, played intramural sports, met his girlfriend his freshman year, attended Homecoming dances and worked as a telemarketer seeking donations from alumni.

He finished college – with a double major in biology and political science – in only three years. By then, he was only 17, believed to be PLU’s youngest graduate.

Now 19 – an age when many college students are just settling on a major, Schlicher has a law degree from the University of Washington, a job with a downtown Seattle firm, and he’s on his way toward a medical degree. Schlicher was the law school’s youngest graduate and the first student ever to complete his courses in two years rather than the standard three-year course.

"I just skipped four grades along the way," he said modestly when explaining his accelerated academic course. "I’d catch up to my class, then get a little bit ahead. I do work hard, but things do come a little easier to me."

He says his memory allows him to remember things, even if he’s only heard or seen them once or twice. That makes learning – and retention of that knowledge – much simpler.

While he was still in elementary school in Silverdale, Wash., Schlicher would walk up the hill to Ridgetop Junior High School for certain courses. He graduated from Central Kitsap High School in 1997 at age 14.

"It always seemed normal to me, but in retrospect, it is a little weird," he said with a smile.

Unlike many others with his advanced learning capabilities, he didn’t skip high school altogether.

"I went to high school, the senior prom, PLU dances," he said. "I did all those things so I didn’t lose any social growth and development."

He admits some people found him an oddity when he appeared at college at age 14, but he never really had any problems. Clearly bright and driven, Schlicher is also personable, friendly, articulate and funny. He possesses maturity beyond his years but doesn’t have any superior air about him.

"I always had fun with people who tried to make a point of it," he said.

While researching colleges, Schlicher was drawn to PLU, where his mom, Carol ’75 earned her nursing degree. He wanted a smaller school, and one where he could live on-campus and enjoy a traditional college life. Some colleges place restrictions on where younger students can live or group them together.

He enjoyed reaching out to the PLU community. "It’s a close-knit group – it’s a family," he said.

After PLU, Schlicher went on to the more competitive atmosphere of law school. It took some persuasion, but his hard work and high marks convinced administrators there that he could handle a fast track through law school. Schlicher is an associate at Johnson, Graffe, Keay & Moniz, a firm that specializes in medical malpractice defense. He’s been working there three years and though he spends 26 hours a week in class, and hours more studying, he plans to keep working part-time at the firm throughout medical school, also at the UW. Completing this part of his education will take the next four years, followed by a medical residency – it’s one part of school he doesn’t plan to speed up.

"But I do find time to do something other than study," he said. Most of his spare time is spent with his girlfriend, Shonda Hoyt ’01, a teacher in the Auburn School District.

He hopes someday to work in an emergency room or have a family practice and represent doctors in malpractice cases at the same time.

Schlicher cautions he’s not an expert on everything. Writing doesn’t come as easily to him as math and science, he said.

"And I can’t draw worth a darn."

By Katherine Hedland

Winter 2003 Scene Copyright © 2003 Pacific Lutheran University
Credits ~ Last Updated 12-13-2002 ~ Comments