Student Spotlight: John Lestina

Blog, Student Success Stories

We’ve been following this rising star since he told us he was taking his classes online while deployed in Puerto Rico. Keeping in contact with him throughout his journey, it was clear to us that John Lestina had a fascinating story to tell. We caught up with John while he was back in Ohio to take his exams. Hondros is proud to present John’s real estate journey from student to agent extraordinaire.

Why did you decide to become a real estate agent?

I’ve always had a passion for real estate. I have several family members working as real estate professionals in a variety of roles and have always enjoyed learning from them about real estate ever since I was very young.

What were you doing before you decided to make a career change? Why did you change from that to real estate?

I am an American Sign Language Interpreter. I hold a national certification, and I am recognized by the Supreme Courts of Ohio and Indiana as a qualified legal interpreter for the court system. I’ve been doing this work full-time for many years and started working for FEMA as an ASL Interpreter in November of 2016. I decided to get into real estate because it is a professional goal I have had for a long time. But I kept finding excuses to put it off. Being deployed to Puerto Rico only a few months after getting married was the wake-up call I needed to start getting proactive about my goals. I saw getting my real estate license as my ‘ticket home’. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy the work with FEMA, but I wanted to be home full time with my wife and start a family.

How does knowing American Sign Language play into your real estate career? Where do you see it taking you?

Being a native bilingual user of American Sign Language (ASL) and English will serve me well in my new career! I’m looking forward to working with the Deaf community, providing services as a Realtor in ASL. Direct access to services is important and hard to find, and I’m honored to be able to provide it to the Deaf community.

What made you decide to take your courses through Hondros?

I have been told by real estate professionals in my family and circle of friends that Hondros had the best program for preparing for the licensing exams.

I needed a quality program that would prepare me thoroughly and let me do it entirely online. Choosing Hondros was a no-brainer.

I enjoyed the appraisal course the most. Many of my family members are appraisers. Going through that course, it was fun to have conversations with them or even challenge them on what I was learning.

I did all of my studying using the practice tests in the backs of all of the textbooks, as well as the state and national crammer textbooks. I completed all 120 hours online, and then I went back through each textbook and completed all of the practice exams and studied the sections I did poorly on. By the time I attended the crammer session I felt confident in my ability to take the exam. The crammer session gave me that final bit of encouragement and an in-person instructor to ask questions to. By the time I sat down for the exam, I was more than ready.

I loved the ease at which I was able to get a quality education. Online and at my own pace. The Crammer session was a huge benefit as well. I traveled home for a two-week vacation, took the Crammer course and the exam two days later. It was a perfect sequence to be best prepared for the exams. I intend to use Hondros for all of my continuing education moving forward. With the experience I had preparing for my licensing exam with Hondros, I am confident I will get the same excellence in my continuing education.

For those who are looking to get their real estate license, I would tell them to make a plan, don’t leave anything out, and stick to it. The most meaningful experiences have been all of the learning. There is still so much to learn after finishing the pre-licensing coursework!

It’s so important for new agents to have a mentor, or a great broker, who is willing to take the time and work with them and help them develop.

How was your experience taking classes online while working with FEMA in Puerto Rico?

I enjoyed the online coursework! It was a nice way for me to stay mentally stimulated with content that didn’t relate to the work I was doing in Puerto Rico. It took me a bit longer than I imagine it would take most people, but that’s because I was very busy there. I was only able to focus on the coursework in my limited free time.

When I began the program, I was working 84-hour weeks, 7 am to 7 pm, 7 days a week. By the time I was wrapping up my coursework, we were down to 60-hour weeks, 8 am to 6 pm, 6 days a week. This type of schedule demanded more discipline in my approach. I had a steady structure that consisted of working out, going to work, and then studying. It’s all I did for a few months. I think at home it’s easy to get distracted. I learned a lot about discipline while I was in Puerto Rico.

Now that you’re licensed, how’s the real estate agent life treating you?

I love working with people and helping people. Not to mention that I get to be home full time with my wife now! I plan on working as a Realtor and as an ASL Interpreter for the next several years. I would like to start a real estate investment business, as well as a sign language interpreting agency, in the future. In ten years I will be a father, own several real estate investments, and operate a sign language interpreting agency.

I attribute most of my success, thus far, to discipline. I hear a lot of people talk about motivation, but I think in the end it’s discipline that keeps us moving and focused even when we don’t feel motivated.

Discipline is a decision; it is something we can practice and improve.

To learn more about John’s story, or inquire about his services, visit his website! Best of luck, John! And thank you for choosing Hondros!

We caught up with John over a year later for an Alumni Success Story – see what he’s been up to!

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