Through our work we have had the good fortune of seeing firsthand how success comes in every shape, size, color, faith, and orientation. More importantly we’ve learned that success is often the result of people embracing their unique backgrounds and so we’ve asked the community to tell us about their background and how it has impacted where they are today.

Jessica Wang | Fermentation & Chinese Cooking Instructor/Micro-Bakery Owner

I was born in Dallas, Texas, to first generation Chinese American parents who were raised in Taiwan. The early formative years of my upbringing took place mainly in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles, where I lived with my immediate family from age 5-12. Following that period, my parents’ work took us to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I spent my adolescent years in an international community. Being raised in a culturally layered environment from the moment I was born and experiencing life overseas instilled in me a deep appreciation for a sense of home and connection with others, which I found to be in its truest expression, in cooking and sharing food. My mother, Peggy, was a huge influence. I spent most of my childhood in her kitchen, where I witnessed her approach to resourcefully nurturing and raising a family through her menu of mostly traditional Chinese cooking and sometimes experimental dishes. There was always something delicious to share. Read more>>

Romi Rivera Rivera | Pilates/Ballet Teacher & Stretch Specialist

I grew up in Monterey, California where I trained in classical ballet starting at the age of three. Through my ballet training with Milou and Kira Ivanovsky, I developed my innate body awareness and learned the benefits of discipline and consistency. At the age of seven I began quietly experiencing chronic low back pain that would refer though my hips. The pain would get to the point that I couldn’t lay flat on my back without intense spasms. I didn’t complain about this, instead just dealt with it as a norm in my life. At the age of 20 I shifted my main attention away from dance. I moved to Austin, Texas to begin my Pilates studies and certification with Wendy Le-Blanc Arbuckle at the Pilates Center of Austin. Incredibly, through my training there my chronic back pain would cease to exist anymore as a norm in my body! I learned that the combination of being hyper-mobile along with muscular imbalances was creating this unsupported compression and therefore constant pain. Read more>>

Jason Hernandez Felix | Wedding and Landscape Photographer

I was born on Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. When I was 13 years old my grandmother was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer and had surgery a couple of months after. During this time I saw as my grandmother went from a smiling and full-of-happiness person to someone who constantly felt pain, and in times became ill to the point of getting hospitalized once every week. Even after going through all of this, she asked me once to take a photo with her. My grandmother passed away 3 months after taking a selfie with her. Since that day, one thing I have fallen in love with is being able to capture peoples’ significant moments and memories with a camera. Read more>>

Kathryn Schulmeister | Bassist, Interdisciplinary Artist, & Teacher

I was born and raised in beautiful Kailua, on the island of O’ahu in Hawaii. Growing up within walking distance to the beach gave me a lifelong feeling of home whenever I’m near the ocean, and I love being near the Pacific here in San Diego. I love the outdoors, and living in Hawaii gave me an appreciation of how healing spending time in nature can be. Hawaii is also a very multicultural place, and I was fortunate enough to grow up with friends that have many different traditions and family histories which gave me an open-hearted perspective towards people with diverse backgrounds. Read more>>

Ariel Thompson | First Grade Teacher and Artist

I grew up in a small town just North of Portland Maine! Summers were spent on sailboats, and hiking the great outdoors. Winters were spent drawing and cross country skiing! I feel like the long Northeast Winters are definitely part of what put a pencil in my hand. I think it also made me appreciate living in warmer climates. It didn’t take me long to move to Tampa Florida where I met my husband. We now live here in San Diego of course. There is so much color in these warmer places- so much to draw inspiration from. It definitely inspires me as an artist. Read more>>

Kathryn de Lancellotti | Poet

I was born on California’s Central Coast, in a small town just south of Big Sur. My father and mother were the pastors of our local church. My neighborhood backed up to a pine forest, just a few miles from the ocean. I was lucky to live in a very safe area where I could wander about barefoot and free. I loved nature and spent as much time as I could picking wild flowers, climbing trees, hunting abalone shells and arrowheads, and running around with the neighborhood kids until sunset. The first poem I ever read was from the Bible, Psalms 23. I was drawn into the vivid imagery, the metaphors, and the lyricism. I fell in love with language and lyrics. I discovered my voice. I loved to sing, to express myself through language. I felt a connection to a higher power through creative expression. I learned faith. I learned to worship. I was drawn into the mystery, into the unknown. I’m a poet. Read more>>

Mirthis Siqueira | Enterpreuner

I am Brazilian, born and raised in Brasilia, capital of my country. From a very early age, I was encouraged by my parents to achieve my independence and fight for my dreams, the daughter of a businessman and a Lebanese mother, when I was 15 years old I started selling bikinis and crochet clothes, the business passion was in the blood. Around the age of eighteen, I decided that I would study law, perhaps due to the influence of work, at the time I worked for the federal government, perhaps, because I was always a curious person about what we call rights and duties, and the lack of equity that exists between people who have access to information and those who do not. In the end I studied many things, foreign trade, law, among others, I went through different types of professional experiences in the goverment and private companies in Brazil, but here I am again involved with my roots and with the gift that I inherited from my maternal grandfather. Read more>>