Jelena Trkuljic, Truman College’s 2023 valedictorian, moved from Serbia to Chicago when she was 19 years old, right after finishing high school in her home town of Aranđelovac.

Knowing she wanted to continue her education, Jelena enrolled in free Adult Education courses at Truman College to prepare to earn her Illinois High School Diploma. From there, she was able to transition into college credit classes with the support of the Gateway Scholarship, which covers half of a student’s tuition costs for four semesters.

Jelena decided to further her education in business, finance, and economics, already having gained knowledge in those areas during her high school experience in Serbia. Her desire to start her own trucking company propelled her forward. Jelena’s parents are truck drivers in Europe, and her goal is to have them help her run the company when they eventually join her in the United States.

“Attending Truman was really helpful with my dream because I could get knowledge in different aspects of business that I wanted to know,” she said.

Now that she has earned her associate degree, Jelena is working the logistics industry. She has also started her own business on the side, which provides safety consulting to other trucking companies, and she’s looking forward to growing the company in order to acquire her own trucks.