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.

Ashlee Freese | Photographer & Coffee Barista

I’m from Corsicana, Tx where there isn’t much to do, and where the people there are pretty conservative. I grew up in the countryside of that town in a mobile home with a pretty tough upbringing. The mobile home I grew up in would vibrate easily with movement and conversations. The house shuck a lot with family disturbances. My mother struggled as she was only allowed to go to work, come home, clean, and cook for us all. There were a lot of restrictions on what she could do. She tried her best but it was never enough for the “man of the house”. We never got family photos because 1. we weren’t a loving family and 2. we couldn’t afford it. Read more>>

Adam Roye | Musician & Producer

Cleburne, Texas is a small town south of Fort Worth with several honorable mentions to it’s semi-quiet history. Cleburne is known for opening one of the first Coca-Cola bottling plants in the Southwest; a historic section of the Chisholm Trail; an early Santa Fe railroad hub, the first in Texas connecting to Dallas; home of the first airplane built in Texas, and last but not least, my hometown. My name is Adam Thomas Roye and I am the owner of Pragmatic Sound Co. and the one-man band, Daphne Blues. Read more>>

Rosa Maria Berdeja | Selfie Museum Owner & Attorney

Originally, I am from Brownsville, Texas but have now lived most of my life in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I come from very humble beginnings. I remember times where I went to bed hungry because I did not have enough to eat. I remember walking home from school and having to stop periodically to remove the rocks that had made their way into my shoes through the holes on the soles. I remember my older sister, at age 12, stealing toilet paper from our elementary school restroom because we did not have toilet paper at home. There was even a time when I was homeless and depended on the kindness of others to simply survive. All of that has greatly impacted the person who I am today. Read more>>

Luxury Strand | Hairstylist & Makeup Artist

I’m from the south side of Chicago . My childhood background is filled with primarily grind , faith and ambition. My parents are creatives even while working Corporate American jobs occasionally; they are and has always been firm believers on following your dream while keeping God first. Because of that upbringing I was blessed with the opportunity to find out what I love to do. I found my passion for working in the Industry. Read more>>

Theo Garza | DJ

I am from a small suburb city called Duncanville “The City of Champions”. Growing up here has made a HUGE imprint on my views of culture. Living in a city of such diverse ethnicities has been a joyful experience. It’s one of the main reasons why I love to start conversations with people from cultures I have yet to be exposed to. Being from Duncanville has a daily effect on not just my self, but everyone who has lived here and crossed paths with a Dville Champion. Read more>>

Madison Klophaus | Author

I am from Mansfield, Texas, a small city just outside DFW. When I was about two days old, I was adopted by my parents from a sweet, quaint adoption center in Houston. A lot of my upbringing was impacted by that fact; I am not a biological product of my parents. I grew up knowing I wasn’t, so it never came down to a surprise confession on my parent’s part, but they made sure I always knew where I came from. And how loved I was that my birth mother gave me up in order for me to pursue a better life. However normal it all seemed to me, the people I grew up with never quit with the questions and I had few answers to give them. I could see each of their parents in their face, too, when they would ask me about it. Read more>>

David Smith | public servant, current candidate for County Judge in Collin County

A diverse background and upbringing with strong values and a focus on local service led to my current public service career and a focus on social and economic justice. I did much of my growing up in the small Southeast Texas city of Groves, where my father served as Mayor and my mother served as editor of the local newspaper. During high school and college years, my perspectives were broadened through living in England and Wales. This was particularly so during my high school senior year, when I lived in a London area YMCA with students from the Asian and African countries of the British Commonwealth. Read more>>