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.

Whitney Allen | Mental Health Professional, Birth and Postpartum Doula & Healer

I was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. My background is what I call, colorful. I have always had a free upbringing which impacted exactly who I am today. My Dad was not around but my Mother made sure I knew my way around and through this journey of life. Being surrounding around so many different personalities (my siblings) inspired me to learn more about human behaviors and healing the human body. Read more>>

Jennifer Baugh | Founder & Executive Director

From day one, God had me on a great adventure. I was born in the Philippines and my brother was born in Hong Kong. We then moved to Norway, CT, San Antonio, and Miami where I went to high school. This travel gave me a great appreciation for people as well as a desire to learn and grow. It also gave me a bit of a restless heart, as I searched for my place in the world. I went to undergrad at Trinity University in San Antonio and after graduation, I worked at Merrill Lynch. After a couple of years, I went to grad school to get my MBA at A&M. I was recruited by a financial consulting firm that ultimately brought me to Dallas, TX. The company delayed my start-date, so I ended up having 8 months off in between grad school and my new job. For the first time in a long while, I didn’t have a work deadline or an exam, so it was truly a unique opportunity for me to step back and take stock of who I was and where I was going. This led to a process of intense soul-searching as I tried to figure out my purpose in life. Read more>>

Ashley Ram Gosnell | Tutor Broker

We moved a lot when I was younger. First (as a baby), I moved from New York to Israel. I then moved back to the states when I was 6. And the moving didn’t stop there! I moved around the United States due to my stepdad’s job, but finally, Texas became home!! Constantly moving means one has to create new friendships, new traditions, and explore new places often, This upbringing undoubtedly shaped my personality and my ability to adapt and take risks. So what I hated doing (moving, changing schools & leaving friends) definitely made me more suited for owning a small business: I constantly have to adapt and take risks. Read more>>

Ruth Griffin | Writer & Publisher

I am from New Jersey, the second-born daughter of a Costa Rican immigrant and a Puerto Rican (American) citizen. My parents’ experience as newcomers to the United States impacted the way they thought and viewed life; which, in turn, impacted the way they raised me and my siblings. They often admonished us to think big and live out our dreams. “We live in a great country,” they reminded us, “Where you can accomplish anything you want to accomplish, and be anyone you want to be. It is your responsibility to achieve the American Dream.” They encouraged the talents they saw in us and though my parents later divorced, the foundation they set was there to take me through life. I have experienced much, positive and negative, including finishing art school, being homeless, getting married, raising three children, relocating not just to another state, but another region of the country (talk about culture shock!), writing and publishing several books (while working a day-job) and starting my own publishing and graphic design business. Read more>>

Erica Kalish | Figurative Artist

Since the beginning of my academic study of the figurative arts, I have been met with aggression from those who believe that the nude figure is pornographic or a pejorative subject. I understand that these feelings are due to cultural influences and familial upbringing, and that the meaning of these symbols change over time. In contrast, my experiences concerning the human body have been exceptionally positive. In my youth, I studied the human body through the lens of a healthcare provider. Studying subjects such as human anatomy and its physiology, microbiology, pathology and eventually specializing in cardiology as an EKG technician (with several years of experience as a CNA), I fell in love with the study of our biology. One vital epiphany that I had while working in the healthcare system is that regardless of who the patient is, I am there to care for them. Read more>>

William Flint | Low-brow Artist

I was from a lower middle-class working family, I feel as if this propelled my imagination. We never had much, so I used my imagination to come up with ways to have fun. Saturday morning cartoons was my connection to the world outside of a small town. The images and characters have stayed with me until this very day. I use the past to connect with the future. Read more>>