Superhero, Activate!

USD student Cailyn Ann Teague ’21 (BA)

CAILYN ANN TEAGUE IS IN A LEAGUE OF HER OWN

Sometimes there isn’t a roadmap forward. For Cailyn Ann Teague ’21 (BA), that’s not a barrier, but rather, an opportunity to chart her own path.

Pursuing a political science major with minors in psychology and economics from the University of San Diego, Teague’s educational achievement is admirable if one were to stop there. However, this native San Diegan raised the bar with the determination she’s exhibited in achieving this success.

Since she was 9 years old, Teague has known she wanted to become a prosecutor, motivated by her interest in law and her desire to help others. Access to faculty members in the USD School of Law — as well as the chance to observe a law class — made USD the right school for her.

In fall 2019, Teague officially became a Torero. Much to the amazement of faculty and fellow students, Teague is set to graduate this May, earning her undergraduate degree in only two years. This is made even more remarkable by the fact that the 19-year-old Teague is one of only two USD non-transfer students, ever, to have earned an undergraduate degree in just two years.

What does she credit for this success?

“My superpower is my Autism Spectrum Disorder,” says Teague, who was diagnosed with the disorder during her senior year of high school. “I have this superpower and it’s really cool.”

Teague credits the support she received early on from her older honorary sister Camille and her friends Zoe and Stephanie for getting her to the point where she’s embraced the disorder.

“It was scary at first,” she admits. “I didn’t know anything about it. They taught me it’s really awesome. They recognized me for me.”

Focusing on the positive is what drives Teague to claim autism as her superpower; especially because she sees it as something that’s played a prominent role in her educational path.

“I’m really academically focused. It helps me a lot with my memory, with concentration,” she says. “I can be in a zone for a very long time and basically tune out everything around me. I can stay studying for hours at a time on the same subject without getting bored. It’s what helps me a lot in school.”

Teague, who’s completing her bachelor’s degree with a jaw-dropping seven classes this spring, is already setting her sights on a new educational journey: law school. She sees it as a natural next step in her desire to protect people. Having experienced bullying when she was younger, she’s motivated to help others.

“I don’t want other people to feel this way,” she says. “I want to make sure people follow the rules and no one gets hurt.”

This mission is spurred on by her desire to share her own journey with others, hoping to inspire people through her accomplishments, and more important, the challenges she saw as opportunities and chances to grow, change and further explore who she is and what she can do. “Try as hard as you can,” she says. “All you can do is your best.”

Sharing her story is one way Teague feels she can increase awareness for neurodiversity, ultimately helping the community understand the beauty in her experience. That starts with representation.

“A lot of people with autism don’t see others with autism. You don’t hear very many neuro-diverse stories,” she says. “If you don’t have role models, if you don’t have representation, it gets really hard.”

That’s what pushes Teague forward. In her 19 years, she’s blazed her own trail, guided by her biological maternal grandmother who told her that every time someone told her no, she should take that as a challenge.

As Teague prepares for law school, she’s already looking ahead and setting her sights on the next goal.

“I want to be the first Supreme Court justice with neurodiversity. People need to see that,” she says. “If we don’t challenge what can be done, we’ll get nowhere.” —Allyson Meyer ’16 (BA), ’21 (MBA)

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