PLANO, Illinois – Twenty dollars was all Mila Ferrer had when she migrated to America 40 years ago.
A native of Alcala, Pangasinan, 60-year-old Ferrer did not have an easy life. She was a poor orphan who struggled with four other siblings.
Ferrer promised herself that when she would have a family of her own, they would not suffer like she did.
"I will never have my kids go through the life that I went through as a kid," she said.
When she arrived in the US, Ferrer was just fresh out of college, spoke little English and was broke. But this did not bring her down.
After 17 job interviews, she was still jobless and lived in a mobile home. She knew she had to find a way to survive and ended up cleaning houses for a living.
"I learned how to make my own money," Ferrer recalled. "I was cleaning houses, working in the bank, doing real estate, working as personal assistant to doctors, and being a mom."
She finally landed a job where she could reach her full potential. She was hired as a clerk for a financial company. As she moved from one banking institution to another, she was eventually promoted as a loan manager.
"You have to find a mentor. Kasi yung pera mo kung pagulungan mo you'll be able to make it,” she said.
A single mom to five children, she said America is a land of opportunities.
"I don’t believe that you can be poor in America. If you want to work hard, there is work," she said.
At age 40, Mila’s hard work has paid off. She now owns 52 land properties in America. She bought one of the houses she used to clean and now lives on a three-acre lot with a 6,000 square-foot house.
She is now worth millions and works as a regional vice-president for an international investment company.
The secrets to her success are hard work and passion.
"I love what I do; I help people. I can do this wherever I go," she said.