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.

Morgan Gardiner | Creative & Influencer

I’m from Oceanside, California, a place filled with artists and creatives from all walks of life. Growing up, I remember always being infatuated with the artists I would see around town, and it heavily inspired my style today. Oceanside is where my western, 70’s style came about and my love for old music as well. Aside from the impact this city has had on my fashion, it has also raised me to appreciate many different cultures growing up in such a diverse community. This city will always hold such a sweet place in my heart. Read more>>

Karen Knuth | Creative, Photographer & Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate

I was born in El Salvador during their civil war and came to the US when I was 6. I still recall a lot of my experiences from that time; experiences that have deepened my gratitude and humility at the opportunity I’ve had to grow up in the US. Arriving in the US was a complete culture shock on so many levels. My mom had married the man I have come to know as my dad. Read more>>

Vicki Patterson | Stand Up To Trash Founder & Realtor

I grew up in Dana Point. My parents were both vegetarian, my mom was a yogi. I grew up eating and living holistically. My mom was also one of the first volunteers for Sea Shepherd, in fact we were a part of Greenpeace and PETA. On the weekends we gardened, practiced an asana flow and made juice Read more>>

Himani Birole | Women in Tech | Artist

Hola Socal community, Since a decade, I have moved globally to multiple places for my work. I am originally from Bhopal, famously known as the city of Lakes in central India. I represent modern India where girls have broken stereotypical expectations and proven success all over the world. Read more>>

Ryker Baloun | Actor and entertainer

I was born in Southern California but most of my childhood took place in Hawaii. My circumstances provided insight into two very different walks of life, and I took the best from both worlds. I use entertainment and acting as an creative outlet and passion. Yet I try to maintain values that are stereotypically not associated with the entertainment industry. Like a rhinestone cowboy. Read more>>

Annie Rios | Activist Attorney

I am from Southeast San Diego– which has greatly impacted my life both professionally and personally. Many people, who are not from Southeast, can view this primary Black and brown, working class, neighborhood with a critical eye. They imagine that it is a scary and unsafe place to live. Read more>>