The Carrera Brothers on Pursuing the American Dream
The American Dream. It’s a concept that resonates with most, and something many strive to achieve. And while we may define it differently, it boils down to two things — opportunity and freedom. For two brothers, one an American Family Insurance agency owner and another an employee, this was the recipe for success.
When Alex Carerra and his younger brother Victor were just boys, their mother moved them from Chicago back to Ecuador after she separated from their father, posing some changes and challenges that weren’t always easy for them to overcome.
“My mom’s family was still in Ecuador, so Victor and I moved back there with her while our father and older brother stayed in Chicago,” says Alex. “Moving to an unfamiliar, third-world country was hard. School was tough, and we were very poor. We lived in a small, two-room apartment with mud walls and unfinished wood floors. We had no hot water, and shared an outdoor bathroom with five other families.”
While times were tough and the situation not ideal, their mother had only one goal — for her children to get a good education and have a successful career. So, she enrolled Alex in military school, which gave him the structure and ambition he needed. Early on in his schooling, Alex decided he wanted to become an Air Force pilot and support his mother financially, but a failed vision test forced him to shift paths.
“When I found out I would never be able to fly a plane, I had no choice but to pursue a different dream,” shares Alex. “I would go work in America to support my mom and Victor.”
And so, in August 1991, when Alex was just 16, his mother bought him a one-way ticket to Chicago and gave him her last $30. He moved in with his father and older brother, attended the local high school and worked two jobs. But when he realized school just wasn’t challenging him, he made the decision to drop out and work for a car rental company. There, he discovered his talent for sales and was quickly on the path to management. As time passed and his ambition grew, he jumped to another sales job and then on to getting his insurance license. And in 1997, he became an American Family agency owner.
In all the steps of his journey, his primary goal remained constant — to make enough money to support himself, his new wife, young child and his mother and Victor back in Ecuador. So he put in the time and dedication to make his business grow, eventually allowing him to take on more staff. This opened up an opportunity for Victor to come to the states.
“I didn’t want to leave my mom by herself,” shares Victor. “Fortunately our oldest brother moved back to Ecuador, and I was able to move to Chicago in 1998, at age 17, to live with and work for Alex while attending school.”
Without Alex taking the leap to move back to the U.S. as a teen, Victor would likely never have had the opportunity to create the life he wanted. And by taking advantage of that opportunity and putting in his own hard work, Victor opened his own American Family agency in 2006.
Today, Alex remains a dedicated agent, primarily serving the Hispanic community of the Chicago suburbs. And Victor has since been promoted to the sales district leader for Illinois. They’ve both found a way to make their dreams a reality.
“I credit our mother for giving us both a can-do mentality,” says Alex. “She always said, ‘if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything,’ and I firmly believe that. She supported my dreams over and over, and that inspired me to do the same for my brother, and now my sons.”
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