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Success Stories

2015 Truman College Valedictorian
Born and raised in Brazil, of Italian descent, Juliana is the youngest of two daughters. Despite having a well-established family in her home country, she always wanted to live abroad. Coming to the United States in 2007 through an echange visitor program, she quickly fell in love with Chicago. After living in Canada for a year, she decided o move back to the United States, and applied to Truman College. Originally she intended to only take prerequisite courses.

Intrigued by the high Nclex passing rates Truman's nursing program had, she decided to leave her business background, and pursue an A.A.S. in Nursing. During her journey at Truman, she took advantage of multiple college resources. Getting over the language barrier was initially very difficult as an international student. Her vows to graduate with honors kept her focused, and graduated in May 2015 as the Valedictorian. She credits her success to her family, especially her husband, for understanding her absence, and unconditionally supporting her decisions.

She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, has been on the Presidential Scholar list every semester since the Spring of 2012, won the "Truman Book Scholarship Award: for high academic achievement in 2014, and was selected to attend the "International Scholar Laureate Program" in 2014 and 2015. Juliana is transferring to get her RN to BSN degree at North Park University. Juliana says the education she received at Tuman College made her well prepared to pursue not only her Bachelors, but the Masters and PhD degrees she intends to pursue in the near future.


2015 Truman College Salutatorian
As an undocumented student Christian always assume college wasn't something that would be for him. Falling into the deferred criteria, Christian's prospects were raised, but he needed his GED.

As part of the deferred action program, Christian was able to work and attend school at the same time. Knowing college wasn't something for him, Christian had dropped out of high school. He had to start by getting his GED. By becoming a part of the Gateway Program, Christian was able to pay for school without going into debt. This was a major fear for Christian, and he wasn't sure a degree would be possible without it.

Having graduated in December 2014, Christian is already taking classes at the University of Illinois at Chicago to get a degree in mechanical engineering. Having been to City Colleges and a four-year school, Christian actually misses the Truman experience. He says the professors are more personal. The interactions are more one-on-one. His teachers at Truman cared more about teaching than research. He will never forget how much that learning environment prepared him for his current program.


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.