Where you grew up and your background can often have surprising effects on our lives and careers. We’ve asked folks from the community to tell us about how their background has affected them.

Erika Bowers | Wedding and Event Curator, Accountant, Teacher & Speaker

I was raised in Saint Louis, Missouri which is my Midwest side, but I also have a Southern side as my mother was from Zachary, Louisiana, a small parish in Baton Rouge and I spent a lot of time there too. I feel very blessed to have a mix of both cultures because each city has a richness that has added to my life. As I reflect, I would say the Louisiana portion taught me the value of having manners and being polite. It also showed me how to value everyone and be respectful to all. My Midwest upbringing showed me the value of hard work and how to have integrity. My parents instilled in us that your word should be your bond. We saw our parents work very hard to afford us opportunities they didn’t have growing up. Read more>>

Jamie Scoles | Designer & Musician

I was born and raised in Orange County, California. Growing up in Orange County wasn’t the best experience for me because I was bullied throughout my time in school. Kids wanted to beat me up, they threw trash and milk at me, and would go out of their way every day to tell me that I was ugly and that I should end my life. Expressing my emotions through forms of creativity was the highlight of my days. I loved to design and play music and I filled my time with that, so art and music are who I am. I graduated high school at 17 years old and moved to Los Angeles. I finished college by 19 years old and started in my professional career immediately after. I walked my graduation ceremony and went straight into a career that took me around the world. Read more>>

Angela Mavropoulos | Actor, Model, Musician & Classic Car Enthusiasts

I was raised on a very small island in the Mediterranean sea called Cyprus. My family is one of the powerful names on the island, so I naturally I grew up under a spotlight and always had to keep up with our image. It was not my favorite thing as I was always under the shadow of my Name and mainly my father. It was hard just because everywhere I went people knew my father, but not me. I know that wanting to be an actor and performer is exactly that – being constantly under the spotlight and up-keeping an image, but at least that way I can show that I made my own name – Angela Mavropoulos – rise to fame and have complete control over my image and artistic path. This made me stronger and push myself harder to get to where I want to succeed, on my terms. Read more>>

Dr. Nimira Alibhoy | Upper Cervical Chiropractor

I grew up in a spiritual family, and although it is a huge part of my identity, I have a great deal of love and respect for the sciences which incorporates beautifully into my life. I grew up with a belief that we were designed perfectly; with bodies that were meant to carry us through a lifetime of love, learning, and happiness. I also watched my mom struggle with her health, knowing that I didn’t want to end up in the allopathic model of medicine – one that focuses mostly on functionality while surrendering a healthy, exuberant existence. I knew I wanted to find that balance and shortly after graduating, a situation occurred that would put me on that path. I call it “the car accident that saved my life”. Read more>>

Callie Rekas | Actor, Model & Dance Teacher

I grew up in Indiana and I’ve found that my “Midwest nice” comes with me everywhere and is somewhat unique in LA. I always resisted the idea that being raised in Indiana had any real effect on me growing up, but once I moved I realized it definitely did. I’m actually thankful to have grown up in a small town now, and I like when LA natives tell me they knew from talking to me that I wasn’t raised in the city. It makes me feel connected to my roots, and I also really believe that being known as the friendly, helpful person will always help you get ahead. Read more>

Genevieve Anders | Lifestyle photographer

I am from Northern California, Sonoma County to be exact. I started modeling at the age of 14 and had a career till I was 31. Modeling 100% helped shape who I am as a photographer. It taught me how to interact with clients. You would never know I am a huge introvert if you booked me for your photoshoot. You would think I am an extrovert. It’s all thanks to modeling! Modeling taught me lighting conditions, and how to prompt clients in a natural way. Who knows if I would be a photographer today if it hadn’t been for my modeling career. Read more>>

Loren Chadima | Creator, Teacher of Intentional Acting & Filmmaker

I was lucky to grow up in a suburb town in the East Bay of San Francisco where we were surrounded by a myriad of cultures and arts in Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco. Fortunately, my parents had the resources and the desire to take my brother and me to every different kind of museum, theatre, and musical performance. More than where I lived, it was my parents that impacted who I am today. I remember the first time we had Chinese food and the first time we had “Bunny” at a Moroccan restaurant. “Just try it. You don’t have to like it.” and “Try it now, your tastes will change as you grow up.” These were the mantras of my household. At 8 years old, we went to the San Francisco Symphony and my brother and I fell asleep during the concert, complaining of being bored. Read more>>

Dipti Kulkarni | IT Professional, Artist, Poet, Diversity & Inclusion Advocate

Born in an Indian family, I am raised across various states of India as my dad was an Indian Army Officer. I am currently settled in New Jersey, USA. Have learnt basics of painting from my mom who served as a Vice Principal in High School. Ever since my childhood, I was always interested in Art and won several art competitions. My mom used to teach me the basics of art. Intermediate Drawing exams were popular in my state (Maharashtra) and I had got “A” grade in it which was difficult to secure. My life has always been surrounded by art. I believe that everything can be perceived as an art. But usually in India, if you are good in academics, you normally tend to follow the trend. And, not to blow my own trumpets, I had topped my school and was a merit rank holder. Read more>>

Mia, Benjamin Edenberg & Shielden | Music Composers, Art Designer, Writer & Life Lovers

By the way we came from France, from ordinary family, not rich not poor but with something more important than money, the most valuable ressource : love. School was a prison that we were locked in for about 18 years but as we were freed, we started to live. Living is for us creating. Music of course, but painting, cooking and everything that brings joy and freedom to our souls. The real education that we received is that everything outside is the mirror of what we are inside. Healing our soul is healing the world we are living in. Unfortunately this is not really that school is telling and that is why parents are so important from the very beginning to the end. Read more>>

Karolina Soltani | Director & Owner

I come from the old world, a small town called Czestochowa in the south of Poland. My dad, a retired PE teacher and a soccer coach, has taught me everything sports related from swimming to skiing to playing soccer, volleyball or even chess! My mom has always put emphasis on education to ensure that me and my sister get our college degrees and can speak at least one foreign language. Had it not been for my parents, I would never have gotten where I am right now, that is, running a fitness business in a sunny California holding a Master’s Degree in Economics. Read more>>

Rhonda Jane | Cannabis Marketing & Consultant

Hailing from Buffalo, New York, please allow for me to formally re-introduce myself to the world, my name is Rhonda Jane, The Stoner Formerly Known As Lowe. My hometown of Buffalo, New York is where my creative edge was instilled- my quirky fashion sense, my hometown pride, my love for the Bills, the Sabres & Aunt Rosie’s Loganberry. It was also my hometown in college at the University at Buffalo where I knew I had learned of my love for cannabis. Fast-forward to December 2020, I am on track to becoming a household name in cannabis by way of my Rhonda Jane cannaempire! Read more>>

Karen Woodward Sarrow | Curator, Visual Artist & Graphic Designer

I was born in England and grew up in the Midwest. My father was an explorer and charismatic, my mother was shy and loved people. They both understood the importance of community and family and modeled that for me. I have two older brothers who were in high school when I was a kid. Family always encouraged me to make art, and so did friends in our small community. There were few art teachers where I grew up, I learned to sew, and I studied art through the mail with Minneapolis Art Instruction Schools. Art lessons were a major expense for my family. Today, I still work with people who believe that investing in education is important. Read more>>