Growing up in a single parent home, being the eldest  of three siblings, born to a non-English speaking Hispanic immigrant that worked  long hours as a housekeeper, raised in one of the poorest and high crime areas of Miami – are all events and situations that helped to define Jeff early on. Here’s a couple of lessons learned from Jeff’s personal experience.

He learned the value of education

My Mom

Jeff Zelaya & Mom

“You need to go to school and do well so you won’t have to clean toilets like me” – Mom 

He learned the necessity of leadership

“Your little brother & sister look up to you” – Mom

He learned hard work

“You have to make certain sacrifices to succeed” – Mom

He learned the importance of diversity

“Different is good, if you are just like everybody else there is a problem” – Mom

He learned that love is what matters the most

“We might be poor but never poor with our love” – Mom

Through the encouragement of his mom, Jeff fell in love with learning & excelled in school. He was identified as a gifted student in 1st grade and transferred to a Foreign Language Magnet School where he studied German and French. Although Jeff excelled academically, he was talkative at times and got detention because of it. Jeff recalls it was because his classmates were asking him for help with their assignments and Jeff couldn’t refuse helping them out.

In High School his leadership qualities and desire to help others, won the praise of the International Baccalaureate Director John Lamb who encouraged Jeff to run for Freshman Class President. Jeff went on to become Freshman Class President and then again in his Junior year, both times winning several awards and accolades. After graduation Jeff struggled in figuring out his next step and instead of going to college right away he joined the work force in an attempt to discover what he truly enjoyed.

Through his work experiences he realized his love for sales and marketing. He desired to learn more about this field and with help of great mentors and his girlfriend (now wife) he registered at Broward College where he then became a star student.

Click here to read about what happened next.

 

Jeff, his wife Emma and his newborn son Elijah currently reside in the Washington D.C. area.

Zelaya Family Picture

Zelaya Family Picture