There are so many factors that affect how our lives turn out, but one of the most interesting is how our backgrounds give us unique strengths and perspectives that affect who we are as adults. We asked rising stars from the community to tell us about their background and upbringing and how they feel it’s impacted who they are today.

Jinshi Ozaki | Musician Guitarist

It’s been a long journey to where I’m at today. At the age of 19, I left Japan to the US for studying Jazz, where it was originated. At the Berklee College of Music in Boston, I was guided to study “music” first – musical language, structures, theories and contents of music. Then, I studied Jazz vocabularies and rhythms. I enjoyed practicing day and night with the enthusiastic young talented players from all over the world. Read more>>

Suzan Najjar | Food Photographer & Videographer

My background and upbringing deeply impacts everything I do. I’m the daughter of Syrian immigrants. We escaped Syria long before the war in the summer of 1992 and that’s when my passion for food, culture, and travel began. All my family gatherings were structured around food; It’s something that helped my family feel connected to our homeland, even as we built a new life in the states. These memories instilled in me a reverence for the process of food preparation and enjoyment of a good home-cooked meal. Food has always been a passion of mine, and I knew after holding a camera for the first time that my calling was to celebrate food through photography. Read more>>

Sophia Gilberto | Aspiring Comedy Writer

I remember the first night of college when my new roomies and I were all sitting around getting to know each other, possibly all sharing a single four loko, and it occurred to me how vastly different my upbringing truly was. I always knew it was different but severely underestimated the oddness of it all. I grew up as an only child of a single mom in RURAL New Hampshire, north and then north some more. From age nine to eighteen I attended an independent school that was built next to an Ashram. What is an Ashram? Glad you asked. Read more>>

Rahmaan Patterson | Model | Actor, Writer & Entrepreneur

I’m originally from the good ole frozen tundra of Saint Paul, MN. For as along as I can remember a big part of my life has been consumed with sports from Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Tennis, Basketball, Track and Field, Football you name it. Growing up being an all around individual was ingrained into my DNA; We were taught by our parents that my brother and I had to be no less than a double threat in life. Those threats being Intellect and athleticism, my brother and I had to play a sport a season, and we had to have good grades; that was non negotiable in our household. Read more>>

Artese Tomlinson Stuart | Online Boutique Owner and Event Stylist

My name is Artese. I was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. I come from a family where I was surrounded by many entrepreneurs and hard working women. I’m a strong believer in leading by example and leadership was what I witnessed as a child. Work ethic, integrity, strength are all important aspects of entrepreneurship and I had awesome models of that. Naturally, I followed suite. Read more>>