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.

Shanice Lewis | Resume Writer & Education Consultant

I’m from New Iberia, Louisiana. Uptown to be exact in “dodge city” projects. Very humble beginnings that have shaped who I am today. I’ve produced a better lifestyle than I grew up seeing and I’m humbled by that alone. I didn’t always go to school with the people in my neighborhood so it allowed me to see another side of things, less dysfunctional families, and most importantly black people as business owners, homeowners, and married with families. I didn’t see much positivity in my neighborhood and it stirred something up in me at a very young age. I would always team my mom things like “I can’t wait to get away from here!” And I meant that from the bottom of my heart cause I’ve never lived there since graduating high school in 2010. I’m so grateful for the life lessons and the people who made impressions on me, all of it has impacted who I am today. Read more>>

Moses Okpalaoka | Film Director and Photographer

Okay, My Full name is Moses Uche Okpalaoka but i go by “Mosesvisuals” on my work , I am from the eastern part of nigeria (Anambra State) but grew up in the Northern part (Kaduna State), growing up I have always loved photography and cinematography but living in a country like Nigeria my parents thought it was a terrible idea to pursue these “strange” professions, I lost my mum to cancer and I ended up moving to Malaysia to pursue a degree in accounting and business, well long story short, I lost my Dad to a car accident just before I finished, and this was it, my whole world crashed and I felt so hopeless, I had to do something, so I looked to photography and cinematography while I took free courses on youtube, Read more>>

Suzette Richardson | CEO & Founder

I’m from New Orleans Louisiana, currently residing in Houston Texas since hurricane Katrina. My background impacts every decision that I make today. I’m a recovering addict (11 year, 2 months and 6 days clean from all mind and mood altering substances), I know what it feels like to be at the very bottom of the barrel. I know what it feels like to be lost within yourself…within the world. I know what it feels like to be hungry…to make a decision to choose drugs over feeding myself. I know that pain…that hurt. Because I know these feelings, it has been my hearts desire to give back…to do service work…to help others. Read more>>

LaRisa Rodney | Sisterlock Consultant & Locitian

I am a first-generation American with Jamaican roots. Growing up I watched my mother work multiple jobs to support my 3 siblings and me. From an early age, I knew what I didn’t want to do. My mother never had the luxury of choosing leisure or working a job that brought real forms of happiness. I was the good kid, the straight-A student all the way through graduate school, and a fantastic employee. I had a career in public health and some distinguishable roles doing research work for multiple government organizations such as the Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration, and the National Insitute of Health. During the last presidential administration, I was laid off for the first time and thought it would be simple to just get another job in D.C. Read more>>

Lauren Fleming | Online Fitness Coach & Content Creator

I am from Spokane Washington. My upbringing was mainly impacted by my mom, a single mother who worked extremely hard. She went back to school at age 45 to get her nursing degree after being a medical assistant, then eventually becoming a manager. She has always balanced so many things including working out at 6:30 AM, being a mother, and having to corral people at work. Then there is my dad, who has his own plumbing business. He has always taught me the value of hard work and consistency in your business and in life in general. Read more>>

William Soto | Artist, Fine Art Picture Framer,

I was born in 1979 in Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida two days before Arthur McDuffie died in the same hospital from injuries sustained at the hands of four police officers. Six months into my life, the 1980 Miami Riots began following the acquittal of those four officers. My parents raised my two older siblings and me in the then-impoverished Wynwood area, which was at the heart of these riots. As a result of the chaos that erupted, reporters came into my home and interviewed my parents to ask them about their experiences. Here you can see a news clipping featuring my father and mother holding a 6-month-old me with a headline reading “The photographer had an automatic weapon hidden between cameras and lenses”. Read more>>

Maurice “DJ MOMO” Gray | DJ and Piano Instructor, DJ with the World Fleet DJ’s by the way Texas Fleet DJ’s Program Director of Texas Fleet Radio

I was born and raised in Saint Louis, MO, and now relocated to Dallas, Texas. I come from a large family and watch multiple siblings do different things in life and gave me options on what life was about. I’ve not proud of everything that I did in life but it taught me life lessons to get me where I am today. My mother and father was a great impact on who I am today. To keep me from the streets my parents made Church and God and priority in my life. I learn music from a early age of about 4 years playing multiple instruments. Piano became the instrument of choice and became a gospel musician till today. I became a DJ to give the people the same version of me as a gospel musician but as a versatile DJ. The DJ life of “DJ MOMO” came at a late stage in life because music is not my lifestyle its my life. Read more>>

Nicholas Jones | Wedding & Event Planning Expert

I am from Eunice, La. a small town that’s located between Lake Charles & Lafayette, La. Being from a small community you find that everyone knows everyone and is somehow related to everyone! So with that in mind it was a place where we looked out for one another and freely assisted those in need. I come from two large families where we met often and did everything BIG. My dads’ side of the family is very artistic and who I credit my creative skills to. My grandmother was the town’s seamstress, my aunts, uncles & cousins talented singers, musicians, home builders & pastors! Read more>>

Shaune Stauffer | Model and Fashion Influencer

I am a native Houstonian, my mom owned a cosmetic store in the Galleria during my childhood years. I wanted to be a model for as long as I can remember, but did not know how to get involved in the industry. When I was in high school, agent Page Parkes came to our school to give a talk and invited to meet with the agency. The following week, I signed a contract with them. I couldn’t believe it. Read more>>