The New York Times learned that Melania Trump left Sevnica in 1985. She went to Ljubljana to attend the Secondary School of Design and Photography. In January 1987, photographer Stane Jerko spotted her and asked whether she wanted to be a model. He sent photos of her to a Slovenian cultural center, which accepted her to a fashion course for models.
After high school, she began and dropped out of architecture school at the University of Ljubljana. She was more focused on modeling, and placed as a runner-up in Jana Magazine’s Slovenian Face of the Year contest in 1992. She began a successful career as a model, primarily in print. Not long after, she Germanized her name to Melania Knauss and launched her career as an international model.