CAMBRIDGE — On a recent Wednesday afternoon, 22-year-old Cortlan Wickliff walks into a pizzeria looking every bit the college student, with headphones, braces, and slightly overgrown hair. Finals are over, and there’s not much to do but have dinner with friends and watch movies, lots of movies, until graduation.
Oh, and start studying for the bar exam. When Wickliff dons his cap and gown, regalia his mother had to remind him to order, the Texas native will be one of the youngest African-Americans ever to graduate from Harvard Law School. Wickliff was 19 when he graduated from Houston’s Rice University with a degree in bioengineering in 2010. That fall he started law school, but said the age gap with his classmates, about five to six years, was not the biggest issue.
“Being at a school where there aren’t any right answers when you have been in engineering or sciences classes, that’s a bit of a change,” he said with a shrug. “School was different because of my engineering background, being from the South, being from Texas, rather than different because of my age.”
There is no age requirement for admission to Harvard Law; school administrators said the average age in the graduating Class of 2013 is 27. Students need strong test scores and grades. But more than anything, they must show an aptitude for advocating a point of view, something proven through work experience, extracurricular activities, volunteering, leadership positions.