When his divorced mother faced mental health issues, Santino Filipelli, CRS, CIPS, became the legal guardian to his 10-year-old sister, Selena. Barely 20, he worked two part-time jobs and attended college fulltime. “A majority of our [income] came from student loans and food stamps. I couldn’t keep up anymore. My grades were tanking,” he says. That’s when his aunt told him about the flexibility and financial opportunities that real estate offered. The $400 real estate course investment changed his life. In January 2017, Filipelli, 29, opened Modern Realty serving the Portland, Ore., metro area and is already up to 30 agents and staff. “One way I’ve given back is through my work as a volunteer firefighter,” says Filipelli, who’s also an EMT. Soon Filipelli will soar even higher when he starts pilot lessons.