A Rising Star Gives Back to the Lawrence Community
When Wendy Estrella began school in Lawrence after emigrating from the Dominican Republic at age 13, kids in her class would laugh because she didn’t understand when the teacher asked what her name was in English.
Now, Estrella is the attorney who founded Estrella Law Offices in Lawrence, a real estate and landlord tenant law practice. She also owns a real estate holding company — Estrella Enterprises LLC — with her husband Jose, where they’ve invested in almost 300 units. She is also a trustee of the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover and conducts seminars for first-time homebuyers and on landlord/tenant law, and is the mother of three sons.
In her youth, Estrella thought about becoming a lawyer one day, but with a lack of guidance in the field it felt like an impossible dream. After high school, she attended UMass Amherst, but was forced to withdraw due to her struggles with English. She eventually enrolled in basic English reading and writing courses at Northern Essex Community College, where she received an associate degree in business administration before obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Merrimack College and becoming a full-time accountant.
“It really didn’t hit me until I graduated from Merrimack College,” Estrella says. “I can do whatever I want. The sky’s the limit.”
Socrates De La Cruz, who is an attorney in Lawrence and vice chair of the Lawrence Partnership, became a mentor to Estrella. With his guidance, she found the confidence to attend the Massachusetts School of Law and receive her law degree in 2004 while pregnant with her third child.
“I think lots of our immigrants — they become so comfortable because we have a community where everywhere we go they speak Spanish,” says Estrella, who believes the world is hungry
for immigrants who want to do well. “You stand on your two feet, you do your thing, and you could be at that table like everybody else is.”
Lawrence Partnership Deputy Director Alexandra Nova, who has worked closely with Estrella, believes individuals build levels of awareness and resilience when they move to a new country, and that Estrella is no exception.
As the chair of the Lawrence Partnership since January, Estrella is in an even greater position to use her own experiences to impact the local community, whether she is inspiring other Latinos to attend law school, youngsters to learn English, or busy mothers to pursue their desired degree.
“We all have dreams, and sometimes you’re married, you have children, and you think this is the end,” says Estrella, who married Jose at 18 and had her first child at 19. “It doesn’t have to be
After years of building her character as a strong businesswoman, Estrella is most proud of having a family that can live the American dream, and for being able to support the residents of Lawrence, who live in a community that’s like one big family, according to Nova.
“She feels the responsibility of giving back, of lifting as she rises, and I think that’s really special,” Nova says.