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Success Stories

Hyo Jin Park
2014 Truman College Valedictorian

A.A.S. Degree, Nursing

Hyo Jin Park was born and raised in South Korea. Her mother is an English professor and pastor and her father is a missionary. She has two younger brothers, one who is a student at IIT and the other who studies in Alabama. Hyo Jin studied International Relations back in Korea at Yonsei University, but she always wanted to be a nurse. She came to the US and started studying nursing at Truman College. While at Truman, she had the opportunity to work as a student tutor with the TRiO program for a year. In her teaching experience, she saw a correlation between being a Registered Nurse and a tutor. As a student tutor she gained confidence in her ability to convey knowledge to others in a way that was both effective and easy to understand.  

Paulina Szadkowska-Kociszewski

A.A.S. Degree, Chemical Laboratory Technology
Class of 2012 

Paulina Szadkowska-Kociszewski came to Truman College to improve her English, but an incentive program for ESL students inspired her to pursue an associate degree. She always had an interested in science and decided to focus on chemistry. This field of study created extra work for Paulina as she was still learning English when she needed to learn the language of chemistry and math.

In the fall of her final year at Truman College, Paulina attended the 2011 International Institute for Nanotechnology Symposium at Northwestern University. She listened to numerous speakers all day on a Saturday, just enthralled with the field of nanotechnology. When she heard that two City Colleges students would have the opportunity to participate in a nanotechnology internship, she jumped at the opportunity. She was selected for the paid int​rnship program put on by NanoProfessor, a division of NanoInk, Inc. focused on nanotechnology education. Paulina also started a website to share her experiences and chemical engineering news.

Jitendra Gala

Completed GEDi (online), 2011

Jitendra wanted to change careers and become a nurse. Instead of requesting his high school diploma from his school in India, he decided to obtain his GED diploma. Jitendra chose Truman College’s GEDi program so he could take the prerequisite classes at Truman for its nursing program as he prepared to take the GED. Jitendra passed all of the subjects the first time he took the GED test, even earning a perfect score on the math section. He also earned the Presidential Scholar award twice. He will start the nursing program at Truman College in the fall of 2012.


Brittney Cedar

Completed GEDi (online), 2012 

Brittney Cedar wanted a quick way to prepare for the GED and continue to work full-time. She opted for Truman College’s online GED classes, which allowed her to progress at her own speed. She was able to complete the program in one semester and passed the GED in spring 2012. Brittany will continue her education at Truman College in the fall as she pursues an associate degree. Her goal is to transfer to a four-year institution and build a career in public relations or marketing. 


Melissa Brand

A.A. Degree, Social Science
Class of 2012

Melissa Brand started supporting herself in high school, but couldn’t juggle full-time work and school so she dropped out and passed the GED. After 20 years of administrative work and multiple lay-offs due to the recession and mergers, Melissa decided it was time to try school again. At 38-years-old she enrolled in Truman College with the intention of pursuing a degree that would lead to a stable job. She found that she enjoyed and excelled at writing and that if she tried, she would not only pass her classes, but receive As. She became part of the TRiO program, Phi Theta Kappa and wrote for the school newspaper. 

She graduated from Truman College with high honors in May 2012 with an Associate of Arts in Social Science and will continue her education at Northeastern Illinois University in the fall. Melissa won the only Phi Theta Kappa scholarship offered at NEIU which will cover her tuition for two years and was accepted into the university's honors program. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Communications, Media & Theater so she can continue to write after graduation, either as a journalist or in corporate communications.