MIAMI – As a Cuban immigrant, Justine Jimenez Garcia, broker-owner of Countywide Properties ERA Powered and a coach with the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), knows how important it is to mentor young Latino students on the possibilities for success.
“My alma mater is Miami-Dade Community College, so I wanted to give back,” she says.
Jimenez Garcia’s parents came to Miami from Cuba in 1970. “My parents saved enough money washing dishes and cleaning hospitals to buy their first home,” she says. “A couple years after that, my father became ill and passed away. Having that home meant safety to our family.”
That prompted her to get into real estate in 1994.
“When I got into the business, I had a very good role model as a broker. I saw that if you worked hard, long hours and knocked on people’s doors and introduced yourself, you had a very good opportunity of controlling your own destiny,” says Jimenez Garcia, who was named a Top 250 Latino Real Estate Agent by NAHREP.
Knowing how hard it is to be successful in business, Jimenez Garcia wanted to help students see the possibilities and opportunities out there for them.
“I work with college students,” she explains. “I let them come into my office and teach them how to network and market themselves. I serve as a role model. I give them a roadmap into being a business owner and starting out. It opens the doors for them. It opens their eyes.”
One of Jimenez Garcia’s first mentees now is a successful attorney practicing real estate. Jimenez Garcia also shows students the benefits of homeownership.
She says, “There are studies that say that kids born into a rental household are more likely to rent, and the ones born in a home that is owned are more likely to own. We can change that by mentoring young people and teaching them about how important it is to own a home. My ultimate goal is to have the Latino community grow their wealth and have more than 50% of them own homes.”
Jimenez Garcia also speaks around the country educating Latino entrepreneurs on how they can build their businesses.
“Access to capital is a big issue for Latinos,” she says. “It’s something that NAHREP is trying to work on through its wealth project: The goal is to develop more Latino millionaires and help businesses grow.”
The path to success is education, Jimenez Garcia believes. “I just completed the National Association of Realtors®’(NAR) C2EX program, and I highly recommend it to all Realtors®.”
Overall, she encourages Latino students to look for any and all opportunities.
“I tell them to keep their eyes open and get out and network,” she says. “There’s a program I talk about a lot. It’s in collaboration with Stanford and it empowers Latino entrepreneurs to grow. It’s called the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative. I want to spread the word about those programs. Volunteering in your community will make you a stronger business leader.”
And, that, says Jimenez Garcia, is worth the hard work and long hours she puts into her business and the community.