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.

Brisa Renteria | Sales Selection Strategist

I was born in Mexico City and came to the United States when I was 12 years old. I’ve spent more than half of my life in the US, but I hold my Mexican roots closely. I’ve seen homelessness, child poverty, crime, machismo, and most of all, lack of opportunities. Seeing all of those things, even at a young age, made a huge impact on me and what I wanted to do with my life for my family and my community. Read more>>

La’Wonda Peoples | Event Venue Owner & Professional Event Planner

I am a proud native of Selma, AL. Being from a small town with such a rich civil rights history where people gave their lives so that I might have many of the rights I enjoy today always stays top of mind for me. Whenever I am faced with a challenge in business or my personal life, my thoughts always go to that period in time and I find strength to plow through. Read more>>

Tamia Forrest | Body Sculpting Specialist and Pole Instructor

I’m from Indianola ,MS which is located in the Mississippi Delta. Growing up in a rural and economically disadvantaged area ,we were taught to be hard working and to earn everything. I grew up in an authoritative household where I learned structure, and discipline. These things molded me into the woman I am today. Read more>>

Shakema Tonge | DJ

Born and raised in Houston, TX I spent my four years in high school in Seattle,WA. My family had music my dad was a DJ and music was always played in the house. Having the feel for music was always my passion I always wanted to be in the music industry. Read more>>

Venessa Odera | Founder of Period Packed Initiative

As someone whose family immigrated from Kenya, I think my identity is framed by both gratitude and giving. Gratitude for my parents’ resolve and sacrifice in their effort to support my sister and me in a new country, and a giving spirit fostered by my desire to help those who are less fortunate. My background allows me to remain cognizant of the fact that if not for the kindness of people who helped my parents along the way, I wouldn’t be where I am today. This value of kindness was also constantly modeled by my mom who always aims to carry out at least one act of kindness per day, setting an example for me to do the same. Read more>>

Shalise Golden

Where I’m from is always a question I hesitate on. The reason being, I am what we call a military brat. My father was in the Air Force, which typically caused us to move from place to place every 3-4 years. I was born in Chicago, AKA the Windy city. If you’ve been, you know the food scene here is CRAZY. I then relocated to Germany, then Delaware and lastly, the STL area where my dad retired. As an adult, I then decided to move to Dallas, which is the first time I was able to make the decision on my own. With moving to different areas, it made me diverse, a people person and someone who is willing to try new things. All of that plays a part of who I am today, a foodie. I enjoy trying new dishes and restaurants, and it’s even better when it’s with old friends or new friends. Read more>>