Print Page   |   Sign In   |   Join InRLA
News & Press: Industry News

Indy hotel's rising star was born in Mexico, a breadwinner at 16 and homeowner at 21

Tuesday, September 4, 2018   (0 Comments)
Share |

Indy hotel's rising star was born in Mexico, a breadwinner at 16 and homeowner at 21


, Indianapolis StarPublished 6:00 a.m. ET Sept. 3, 2018

Click here to read the full story on

Don't tell Pablo Perez he's had a tough life. He'll tell you it's been one of opportunity disguised as hard work.

Perez is just 21, but he has been helping raise his younger brother and sister since he was 16, while going to school and working.

All of this because his mother was arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border when she tried to re-enter the United States illegally several years ago. That left a young Pablo at home in Indianapolis with his grandmother and his two siblings, then just 6 and 8. A commitment to family and work has earned the Mexico City native a rare distinction for his job performance at the JW Marriott in Downtown Indy.

Cintas Corp., which provides uniforms and other products to the JW and other businesses throughout North America, is honoring Perez as part of its Everyday Impact program. He is one of just 10 people in the country to be recognized with the award this year. Many are immigrants and veterans.

New hotel: Historic Downtown Indianapolis office building set to become 128-room Aloft hotel
Perfect gift: Five years after picture-less wedding, photographer gives couple a beautiful gift

Perez, a graduate of Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet School in Indianapolis, began working at the JW through a temp agency three years ago after two years working at a fast-food restaurant. He has worked his way up to stewarding manager, supervising food service and banquet set-up.

Jeremy Turley is Perez's manager and nominated him for the award. Pointing to his work ethic, dependability and maturity, Turley said Perez "could be running the joint some day."

"I think back to when I was his age. I was nowhere near looking toward the future," Turley said. "I was earning my paycheck and seeing what I could spend it on. I wasn't thinking about making a career of anything."

But Perez hasn't had time to waste. His mother, Juana Julieta Aceves, died in Mexico in 2013 shortly after learning she had cancer. Because she brought Perez to Indiana illegally when he was 9, he did not have legal status and couldn't risk leaving the U.S. to attend her funeral when he was a teen.

"My mom's story is complicated; she went through a lot," he said. She and his father split up when he was a toddler, he said, and his dad was later paralyzed in a shooting in Mexico. He died earlier this year.

Perez has since achieved legal residency; his siblings, now ages 11 and 13, were born in the U.S.

It's for them that he works so hard, taking on the role as the primary wage earner in the family, attending back-to-school nights for his brother and sister, scheduling doctor's appointments for them and for his grandmother. After years of living in apartments, he recently bought a duplex for the family in Wayne Township.

Those adult responsibilities have set him apart from his friends, but he's always been goal-oriented, he said, so his circumstances help keep him focused.

"My friends have more freedom, they don't have to worry about a mortgage or how their brother and sister are behaving in school ... but my brother and sister look up to me. I show them independence and initiative."

Turley admires that work ethic and is pleased that it is being rewarded by Cintas. He will travel with Perez to Chicago in late September for an awards dinner and a Cubs game.

"There's never something he won't take on," Turley said. "He's taking care of his family and people here, always willing to give people rides home."

Perez is studying business management online through Ivy Tech Community College, on top of his 50-hour week at the JW, where last week, he was prepping for the Indianapolis Colts kickoff luncheon.

Former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was in the house, along with current quarterback Andrew Luck and the rest of the team, but Perez is not starstruck by celebrities or athletes.

"I've seen my share of politicians and athletes, but I'm not into politics or football players," he said. 

Like high-achievers in those fields, though, he's always had that drive to better himself, "to be something," he said.

"My goal is to be general manager of a hotel some day."

Contact IndyStar reporter Maureen Gilmer at 317-372-6311 or Follow her on Facebook and Twitter: @MaureenCGilmer.

Membership Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal