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.

Kaitlin Mitchell | Author and Garden Educator

I am a San Diego County native and grew up in Escondido. I did not grow up growing food. That passion came later in life when I was pregnant with my first child. My husband was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that affects digestion. I wanted to learn about the food my family was eating, and growing our own was the natural next step. The majority of my professional background is in education. I taught for many years with the Solana Beach School District, and 4th grade was my jam! I love teaching, and creating this garden curriculum allows me to use my “teacher brain” toward topics that I find important and life-changing. I also come from an entrepreneurial family, and my parents have always owned local businesses. Read more>>

Lucia Porta | Jewelry Designer & Makeup Artist

I was born in Guatemala City and moved to the US with my parents and sisters when I was 17 years old. Moving to the US as a teenager definitely impacted my life greatly, not only did i have to learn a new language but a new culture, make new friends, detach from my “circle” of friends and family etc. All these things helped me mature, have an open mind and have a different perspective in life. my family has always been very supportive and encouraging, I was taught to always give everything my all and the words “I can’t do it” are banned from my house… so I think this upbringing has just shaped me into a driven and goal oriented person. Read more>>

Toby Batley | Artistic Director of a Ballet Academy – Southern California Ballet

I am from a rural village in the UK. The school I attended had around 15 kids in my whole year group and my closest neighbor growing up was 1 mile away. I guess I grew up with what you might call an idyllic life, playing in the countryside and not really worrying too much about anything. That had a profound effect on my character and I think made me quite resilient when it comes to stress and worrying about things out of my control. I also had very artistic parents who both graduated art college. My mom was a jewelry designer and my dad a television production designer. I am sure this is the reason I was able to pursue a career in dance. They were very open minded to me doing whatever I enjoyed or wanted to do and didn’t worry too much about whether it was going to make me tons of money or anything like that, so long as I was happy. Read more>>

Krysada Binly Panusith Phounsiri | Bboy, Poet, Photographer, Engineer, and Lao American Community Advocate

I was born in Huay Xai, Laos. I immigrated to San Diego, CA before I was 2 years old. I was raised in Southeast San Diego. I’ve learned to embed the teachings of my homeland’s culture along with my upbringing in Southeast San Diego. They complement and contrast with each other. Growing up, we did not have much. Moving from one rented place to another, I experienced impermanence in a physical home. Over the years, I invested much of my time thinking about home and what does home mean to me. The Lao saying is “Sa Baiiii Sa Baiii” or “Baw Pen Yung” – The first saying is essentially to relax, and the second saying pretty much means “it’s all good”. Even through the war that my community faced, we keep a relaxed and chill attitude towards working through our problems. Read more>>

Hannah Greenwood | Owner | Organic Social Media Marketing Specialist

I am from Manchester, New Hampshire where I was brought up by two hard working business owners, AKA my parents. From as far back as I remember, my father always worked for himself. I used to go to his office and hang out there because I thought it was so cool that he was ‘the boss’. My mother was originally a paralegal but eventually made a major career change to become her own boss and open up her massage therapy/esthetician practice. Seeing my parents be so passionate about their work has really inspired me to find that career that means a lot to me. I have always been taught to work hard, never expect hand-outs and never give up – these things have stuck with me throughout my career and I have my parents to thank for that. Their small businesses have inspired me to work with other business owners because I know the hard work that goes into every detail and I wanted to be a part of that vision. Read more>>

Ebony Stewart | Event Planner & Entrepreneur

I was born and raised in Belize City, Belize. I left and came to the US at age 16 years old. I was raised by a single mother who was strong and tough and taught my brother and I, that success came with hard work, consistency and many sacrifices. I always aspire to become a business owner as a kid. What business? I wasn’t sure but I knew I wanted to make a difference and change the world. I wanted to make people smile, laugh, feel good about themselves. Read more>>

Hope Reid | Photographer & Creator

I’m originally from Poughkeepsie, NY. My background and upbringing impacted me in a way that I feel made me solid as an individual. When I say solid I speak of structure, my values, morals, my views on life and the things in life. No matter what those things are from the simplest thing to the most complex. It also gave me drive.. taught me to be optimistic and hungry. Read more>>