Enjoying The Journey

“Enjoying the Journey”

“I plan to be a millionaire by the time I’m thirty.” Esperanza Maldonado

Ask Esperanza Maldonado about the future, and she jokes, “I plan to be a millionaire by the time I’m thirty.” The goal is ambitious, especially for someone who is 27, but success is certainly part of the picture for the talented student at the Youth Automotive Training Center.

Like a number of her fellow students, Ms. Maldonado entered YATC when she was living at a halfway house. She so impressed YATC founder Richard Liebler that he hired her as a sales person at his auto dealership in Hillside.

“I have the gift of gab,” Ms. Maldonado says. “I love selling cars. It’s a blessing really. I could never have gotten a job like this anywhere else.”

The mother of a seven-year-old son, Ms. Maldonado says that she became interested in YATC because she likes cars. “I’ve really enjoyed YATC,” she says. Ms. Maldonado will graduate in August and plans to open her own auto body shop after she returns to school to get a degree in business and marketing.

The salesperson and student keeps a crushing schedule. She lives in Paterson and does not have a driver’s license because of fines imposed when she was arrested. To get to YATC in Newark, she leaves home at 6 AM and takes two different buses, the Newark subway and another bus. Then, when classes are finished at 1PM, she takes two more buses to get to work at Hillside Auto Mall by 2PM. If she can’t snag a ride from a coworker, Ms. Esperanza does not get home until 11:30.

Recently, Ms. Maldonado testified before a legislative committee in Trenton in favor of provisional drivers licenses that would allow a person to drive to and from work or school.
“You do things and there are consequences, but when do they end?” she says.
Ms. Maldonado wants to pay off her fines and have driver’s license again by the end of summer. “I feel like I’m in an upward spiral,” she says. “I’ve already been at the bottom so there is no place to go but up and I’m enjoying the journey.