Unlike many drivers, Tokeyna (Toke) Shelton didn’t become a truck driver because it was something she’d always wanted to do. She didn’t have a lifelong dream of driving the open road and it was probably one of the last things she thought she’d ever do. However, sometimes life throws you unexpected challenges that push you toward a path that ends up being one of the best things in your life.

“I got my CDL because I went through a divorce and some other personal circumstances and found myself in major debt,” Toke explains. “I felt like I didn’t have a choice. Trucking was the only option where I could make decent money.”

Toke became a driver in 2015 and eventually found her way to us at Carter in 2016.

“I thought I’d give Carter a try because they were supposed to be family oriented,” she says. “I wanted more time at home. I missed my kids.”

She decided to give it six months and if she didn’t like working with Carter, she would go somewhere else. What she found is a company that prioritizes its drivers and stands behind its promises.

“Carter really is family oriented. When my dad got sick, they gave me time off to spend time with him and time after he passed away to spend with family,” explains Toke. “Anytime I have something going on, they’ll help me figure it out. They’re a really great company.”

When Toke originally joined our team, she was a team driver. Now, she works with us as a solo salaried driver, which is one of our forced dispatch positions.

“I took this job because it’s consistent. As a team driver, my pay was all over the place. Now, I know what I’m making every week and its steady income,” she says.

Trucking is known as a male-dominated industry, even today when there are more women drivers than ever. Toke says she often deals with male drivers being surprised that women can be successful and skilled at their jobs.

“We’re not just like the men, but we’re just as good as the men. Don’t discount us because we’re women,” she says. Working for a company that’s supportive of its women drivers is important, Toke adds.

“Erica Houser and Shonda Claborn, the other dispatchers, are so supportive. I have a whole list of phone numbers of people to call if I need help for routes or anything. Carter is a great company to work for in general, but especially for women in this industry.”

When Toke is not on the road, she’s usually spending time with her four grandchildren or in her art room. She loves crafting, refurbishing furniture and painting scenery on them. She even has a booth at an art show coming up to sell her furniture.

We asked Toke if she had advice she wanted to share with other women drivers in the industry and she said this:

“Don’t let anyone get you down. Believe in yourself and allow yourself to do it. This is a hard job but rewarding.”

Carter is proud to be known as strong supporter of women in trucking. Connect with us today to learn more about joining our team!