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.

Vinita V. Pugal | Founder, Designodal, Inc. – Storyteller, Experiential Designer, Master Planner & Landscape Architect

A story of an immigrant is multigenerational, shaped by different cultures and historical events. I was born in a border town during a war between two countries, India & Pakistan. The uncertainty of the times shaped my family’s destiny. My father was a Dental Surgeon in the Military, and my mother was a civilian Doctor. Read more>>

Jenni Williams | Painter & Observer

I’m from Lancaster, California- born and raised in the Mojave Desert. In fact, for the first 1o years I lived in an outskirt town called Mojave which had a population of about 150 people. Though a lot of folks seem to have some kind of “hometown blues” attitude toward where they come from, in the back of my mind I always knew I loved the desert. Read more>>


I’m from San Bernardino California. My upbringing.. I can honestly say I had the good and the bad. I’ve had the pleasure of both worlds. What I mean by that is, my mother was low income where we had food stamps and loved in a low income area. Where my father was making 6 figures and lived in Redlands CA. Read more>>

Jimmy Matiz | Chef Consultant and founder of Matiz Catering

I was born in Bogotá, Colombia. Since I was a young kid I liked working with my hands, I enjoyed watching my mom cook and was always curious about all the ingredients specially fish. At the time my parent didn’t think of me being a Chef, and it wasn’t until I started traveling the world that both my parents and I realized that my passion really had a bright future. Read more>>

Ellyn Lerner | Founder of Santa Monica Kids, a resource for fun things to do with kids in Santa Monica and SoCal

I am originally from Ukraine, but my family immigrated to Chicago, IL when I was three years old. Growing up in a different country definitely had an impact on my upbringing and who I am today. For one, I was exposed to different cultures and customs at a young age, which I think has really helped me to be open-minded and accepting of others. I want to instill those same values to my children. Read more>>