From working in a call center and at a bank, to serving as a full-time nanny, Renee King’s resume already spans several industries—and now the 31-year-old Jamaican immigrant is focused on adding her dream job in dentistry to the list.

Renee is set to graduate with her associate degree in science from Truman College this spring, and she’s already been admitted to transfer to UIC in the fall through City Colleges’ guaranteed admission partnership with the university. There, she’s planning to study cellular molecular biology in preparation for dentistry school.

If you ask her professors, advisors, and peers, there’s no doubt that Renee has what it takes to achieve her dreams. In fact, the near 4.0 GPA student was recently named a Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholar by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, meaning her bachelor’s degree will be tuition free.

Renee credits her determination for her accomplishments, but her educational journey certainly hasn’t been easy. After moving to Chicago from Jamaica in 2016 and enrolling at Truman when her daughter was seven months old, she made the difficult decision put her studies on hold in order to make financial ends meet. Still, she never lost sight of her goal and re-enrolled at the school a few years later.

Renee says her advisor, Jodi-Ann Browning-Bent, and Truman Dean of Student Services Mary Ann Soley have been instrumental to her success. Jodi and Renee have bonded over their Jamaican heritage, and both Jodi and Dean Soley have provided Renee with empathy and an open door at every turn—support that she believes is reflective of Truman as a whole.

“It’s an institution that’s not biased, that’s flexible, and that wants you to win,” she said.

Beyond the staff at Truman, Renee has another source of motivation—her now 5-year-old daughter Jadae. Renee wants to be an example of resilience, courage, and strength for her daughter, and she’s motivated by the desire to show her that “women move mountains every day.”

As Renee looks forward to finishing the semester strong and graduating this spring, it’s clear that example has been set—both for Jadae and anyone else that hears her story.

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