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.

Sandra Litthachack | Licensed Master Aesthetician

A little bit about me. I was born and raised here in San Diego, CA. I’ve spent most of my life here by the beach, and a couple of years in Las Vegas to pursue my nursing degree. Family is what brought me back to San Diego, (and the beach, of course!) I am the fifth or seven of my siblings, yes- the math is 8 of us total ( same parents!) Being part of a big family has taught me to be competitive and strive to do my best in every aspect of my life. I’ve learned a lot from my refugee parents who were wanted a better future in America for themselves and their children, escaping a war-torn Cambodia in the 80’s. Read more>>

Iñaki VOLANTE | Architect, Executive Director of Baukunst Academy in Spain.

I was born in Chile, but I am the son of Italian immigrants and the Basque Country. I have always been interested in architecture, especially drawing and making models of planes or ships. I have also always been very interested in reading history: from Egypt to World War II. I also grew up watching a lot of movies in real movie theaters, like in the old days and that made me pay attention to the spaces of the cinemas and their projections, the mezzanines and also the lobbies that were a true spatial beauty. Read more>>

Roberto ‘Bobby’ Alvarado | Artist/ entrepreneur

I’m first generation Salvadoran/ American. Born and raised in Los Angeles by single mother who immigrated to the US in ’76 My mother was a strong, hard working woman that raised my siblings and I on her own here in the US. She also ruled with an iron fist. Haha We didn’t have much growing up but had everything we needed. Most importantly, work ethic. From a young age hard word and getting through the struggle was a topic of discussion. However, the line of work my family would have chosen for me didn’t line up with, not only artistic abilities but my Entrepreneurial spirit. Read more>>

Rachel Forte | Photographer, Recipe Developer, & Creator of Bake & Be Well

I grew up in Maryland, and I lived there until I finished my college degree. I have a background in the arts. I went to school for a BFA in Painting, and the majority of my work post-college revolved around creative roles. I spent years working in a small art gallery, as an art consultant, and as an event photographer. I think the variety of jobs I took on in my 20s was extremely beneficial in terms of taking on new challenges and experiences, but also in terms of figuring out what it is I truly enjoy. Read more>>

Q Tha Elevated | Emcee/Songwriter

I was born in Wichita, KS, and spent some years living back and forth between there and the Chicago West side, where my father lived. Wichita is obviously not one of the largest cities, but it is one of the most diverse in terms of cultural influences, so the people keep the city interesting. I grew up on the North side of town, which for us was basically the hood (lol), not the worst parts, but close enough that the negative impacts of poverty still tip-toed in the neighborhood, and frequently. Some had it worse, and I’m forever grateful that my mother never stopped pursuing a better lifestyle.  Read more>>

Sarah Blair- Pure Palate | Trained Chef & Wellness Food Blogger/Producer

I grew up in the mountains of NH. My parents are huge “green thumbs” and took much pride and energy in cultivating our land. The outside was a natural playground for my sister and me. We used to graze in my dad’s giant vegetable garden, and berry patches between pond swims, tennis, tag, and croquet. We were brought up to appreciate the land and all its offerings and entertain ourselves with simple pleasures. Read more>>