South Mississippi Strong: Biloxi man shares his journey toward the American Dream

Biloxi man shares his journey toward the American Dream

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Being a real estate broker and Coast business owner keeps John Le constantly on the go. The 35-year-old does all that while making time for his wife and three kids. But for Le, the path to success hasn't been an easy one. He, along with his parents and siblings, immigrated to the US in the 80s with nothing, but the clothes on their backs and they did it all for a shot at the American Dream.

Le is a broker associate with J. Carter and Co. Real Estate and Development. He's been in real estate for seven years, and in 2016 earned the title of "Top Producer" by the Gulf Coast Association of Realtors.

"I don't have like one specialty. I mean, I cater to everybody... whether it be first time home buyers, whether it be investment properties, I help everybody," said Le. ?

Le isn't just selling properties. He's also the owner of Shear Beauty Salon and Boutique. From the outside looking in, Le's accomplishments seem effortless, but don't let him fool you - his road to success was riddled with challenges.

"I was born in Hong Kong. I was born in '83. We immigrated to the US in '85. My parents were refugees. They were refugees from Vietnam. They were fleeing Vietnam after the war. They wanted better lives not for them, but more for us," he explained.

After a year in Hong Kong, the Le Family moved to a refugee camp in the Philippines. In 1985, thanks to a family member who sponsored them, Le and his family moved to Connecticut. Only two at the time and speaking no English, Le entered ESL classes.

"We grew up on one of the most violent streets in Hartford, Connecticut. We lived in a one bedroom apartment. And after several years, my parents both of them worked double shifts and was able to save up enough money to move us out of that area," said Le.

In 1999, the family moved closer to relatives in South Mississippi.

"When we first moved here. I was the only one that could get a job. I was the only one that got a job. Like was able to find a job. My parents couldn't get a job, even my brother at the time couldn't get a job. So basically I was the only one working in the family," said Le.

Le eventually dropped out of high school in the 11th grade to work as a server and help his parents with their new dry cleaning business.

"The language barrier that they had, I pretty much managed the dry cleaners for them. I took care of everything on the business side for them, as far as, accounting and everything like that," he added.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the business. But Le wasted no time moving forward. He moved on to become a nail tech at Chris' Beauty College, and eventually co-owned his first business - Posh Nail Spa in Gulfport - for five years before selling it.

"To me, I always had to work a lot harder than everybody else. And not to say that I had to, I wanted to because I wanted to attain a certain type of success," he said.

Today he's a top real estate broker and owner of Shear Beauty Salon and Boutique in Gulfport, which is run by his fiancee.

"My favorite thing that he always tells me is, 'positive mind, positive results.' As long as you are thinking positivity you will get positive results. It's not about who you hang out with it's about people just wanting to do better and thinking better," said Le's fiancee, Uyen Nguyen.

And despite all he's been through, Le doesn't believe he's been through any difficult struggles.

"The American dream is there for everybody. I don't care what color, what race you are, the American Dream is there for everybody. You just gotta be willing to work for it. I always say success comes from faith and hard work. Cause if you're not willing to put in the hard work, you've got nothing. You have nothing," said Le.

The lessons from his childhood and the obstacles he overcame are what make Le South Mississippi Strong.

"My dad, his lesson to all of us is always stay humble and always praise God for what you have because everything you have can be taken away from you," said Le.

Le became a naturalized citizen of America at the age of 10 after his mom was naturalized. He said she passed the citizenship test on the very first try.

Copyright 2018 WLOX. All rights reserved.