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.

Jacob Thater | Wedding and Event Planner & Designer

I was raised in Vancouver, WA (Yes, Washington state, not Canada!). The small city sits on the banks of the Columbia River and is a quick 5-minute drive from better known Portland, OR. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I was lucky enough to have woods to explore, streams to play in, trees to climb, and mountains to hike, which explains my love for the outdoors and adventurous spirit to try new things. My parents have been separated for as long as I can remember, and my incredible Mom raised me and my sister on her own. When I was growing up, I never really thought about how difficult and terrifying that was for her to do, but reflecting back on my childhood, I know that her relentlessness to protect and provide for us as best as she could is what made me the hard worker that I am today. Read more>>

Rochelle Cheever | Photographer & Designer

My background and upbringing has a lot to do with my artistic identity and person as a whole. My American parents moved to Rome, Italy when I was just 11 months old. In fact, my little brother was born in Rome. I grew up with classical art and surrounded by work created by the masters: Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and other iconic artists. Rome is an open museum and every corner is breathtakingly beautiful. From early childhood I’ve always love art and have always been creative. Strange because I was the only one in the family with any inclination to art. I loved to play the piano (took 12 years of classical piano lessons, love to cook (almost everyone Italy loves to cook & eat good quality food), draw and paint. Wherever I am in the world, whatever I do or photograph, Italy is always embedded. I strive for the quality and timeless beauty Of classical art especially the renaissance masters. Read more>>

Elizabeth Washburn | Artist & Executive Director

Growing up in the midwest, in Kansas, with low crime rates, a middle class upbringing, and loving supportive parents is absolutely fundamental in who I am today. It wasn’t until I started working with combat veterans and incarcerated teens that I realized what a difference-maker a safe loving home is to the development of an individual. So many of the challenges I see the people I work with face are a direct result of their childhoods. When a person is brought up in an unsafe environment, their cognitive and emotional skills are negatively impacted, which leads to disruptions in their mental health and individual achievement throughout their lives. Being loved and feeling safe are crucial to healthy emotional development and the building of self-confidence. Read more>>

Sabrina A. Falquier Montgrain, MD | Physician: Internal Medicine and Culinary Medicine, Founder & Owner

I was born and raised in Mexico City to Swiss and American parents. Having different languages spoken at home, worldwide travel, different cultures and culinary experiences have shaped my world view. I spent many summers in Switzerland, and there there was one daily ritual I would always share with my grandmother. Each morning I would accompany her to different small shops, watching her speak to the vegetable and fruit stand vendor, or the butcher, or the cheesemonger, as we gathered ingredients at the peak of freshness. The perspective I gained from those experiences of taking simple, real ingredients, and making them shine. and this, along with honoring the different food traditions in varied countries, are the inspiration behind my culinary medicine practice. Read more>>

Kat Kerth | Artist, Illustrator & Designer

To make a very long story short, I was born in South Korea, but I am from New Zealand. After completing my Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design, I moved to London to gain my master’s then worked for a fashion company where I was able to be a part of Paris and London Fashion Week. During my time in London, I met my American husband, and we decided to move to San Diego, California. With my skills, knowledge, and industry experience, I started Kat Kerth Studio, feeling confident  to stand on my two feet. Having worked with some amazing design companies,  it has helped  the  design  and  production process in my own business. I  feel  fortunate to implement and demonstrate  all the years of practice  into  producing high-quality work with  Kat Kerth Studio. Read more>>

Scott Tournet | Musician, Singer-songwriter, Producer & Engineer

I was born in the berkshires in northwestern Massachusetts. When I was young my family moved to very very rural Vermont. We were the only house on a remote dirt road and we had no electricity. Pre-internet. We had small black and white TV which we ran off of a car battery. We got two channels on a good day. At the time I hated it but looking back now I realize that it instilled a strong sense of creativity. I was alone a lot and often would go to a place of make believe to entertain myself. The woods became a jungle, tree forts became palaces, animals became friends. The skill of making something out of nothing has served me well in songwriting. Read more>>