Life is a second chance. Sometimes it’s asking for forgiveness. Sometimes it’s about making a clean sweep. Sometimes it’s just a matter of whether it’s tomorrow.
For Tyler-area real estate agent Eslendi Moreno, second chances took a while.
“I was pretty much the black sheep of the family,” she said.
Growing up the eldest of three children to a single mother, Moreno had to play the role of a young adult before he was a child.
Between the ages of 10 and 13, Moreno went to work with his mother during the summer to help clean houses.
“It was tough…I felt like I really missed my childhood summers,” she said.
Eventually, Moreno secured a babysitting gig for a neighbor: “They had cable and internet, I really liked that. It didn’t feel like a job to me.
However, in middle school, she started getting into trouble, caring less about going to class.
“I just didn’t see the importance of it,” Moreno said. “I thought, ‘Why continue?’ and I just thought it would be easier not to go anymore.
Between working at 14 and finally getting pregnant at 15, Moreno found herself with the challenge of growing up too fast.
“It was hard…I had to go to work to be able to support myself and I couldn’t get any support from my family…they basically told me that was the path I had chosen and I had to start getting used to it,” she said.
Moreno worked at fast food outlets like McDonald’s to make ends meet, but she realized working paycheck wasn’t enough. She wanted more for herself and her daughter, so she enrolled at Tyler Junior College West Campus to pursue her GED.
“I would go to work in the morning and go to class in the evening,” Moreno said. “It was difficult…especially in math.”
Preparing with practical tests and extensive study, Moreno moved on to receive her GED and made it to graduation.
But Moreno knew she had to find her own ambition, but to do that she had to heal, especially from not being able to get the support of her family: “Once I was able to let go of all that pain, things started to improve.”
Being born in Mexico and then moving to the United States had its challenges because it meant she wasn’t a citizen, which made things like finding a job difficult, even with a GED.
She said that in 2007 she tried to look into Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA, which is a kind of administrative deportation relief for those who came to United States when they were children.
“Unfortunately, because I missed school, I didn’t have what they needed, so I couldn’t use it,” Moreno said.
The setback led her to give up and return to working in fast food restaurants.
However, she was determined to find a better place for herself and her family, so she hired a lawyer to figure out the steps to become a citizen.
“Once I did that, the process started to speed up…and then things kind of fell into place,” Moreno said.
Although getting a lawyer wasn’t cheap for her, Moreno was grateful that her attorney gave her the time to secure the funds to continue, and it took her five months to save at least $10,000.
Even though DACA didn’t work, Moreno needed documents that not only helped speed up the process, but helped bypass a path that would have made things more difficult.
“There were these documents that I had from my grandparents that my lawyer called the ‘golden ticket,'” Moreno said. “I would have been sent to Mexico to be questioned by immigration, but luckily I only had to go to Dallas.”
Being interviewed in Mexico would have been a big risk because if she hadn’t been approved, she would have been blocked there almost instantly.
“I couldn’t have come back to the United States,” Moreno said.
Fortunately, she was able to obtain a green card, allowing her to obtain resident status for two years, and then full citizenship status.
“I’m much more confident…grateful to be out of the bubble I was in,” Moreno said.
Much of the credit for perseverance goes to her husband of seven years.
“When we first met, we were just two teenagers trying to make it work. He was so supportive of me,” she said.
Along the way, Moreno acquired the tools and resources she needed to become a realtor, to provide additional communication and education to the Hispanic community.
“I want to help them…not be afraid and guide them through the process of buying a home,” she said.
Moreno’s supervisor, Erika Gonzalez, owner and realtor of Maya Properties, is proud to have him on staff.
“She’s been a complete blessing…and always ready to learn more,” Gonzalez said. “We both have the same work ethic…the same ideas of how to take care of customers.”
Moreno stays honest with his customers and makes sure they know what to expect.
“Communication is key,” she said.
As for his second chances: “Sí, se puede,” Morales said. “It means ‘yes, it is possible’.