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.

Dexter Walker | Actor & Motivational Influencer

I’m from Houston, Tx. Growing up…my childhood wasn’t as greener on the other side. I was raised as a foster child for about 12 years or so. Being in the system sort of made me question myself on surviving. I would get relocated to another home if the placement wasn’t safe enough for me and that was tough on me as well. I would have to adapt to a new environment every 6 months or so which was kind of a bummer. I wasn’t able to explore what I wanted in life because of the way the system treated me. Seeing others my age in the system fail so badly without any guidance…motivated me to want more out of life. I pushed , I pushed, and I pushed and continue to push for better things in life. Read more>>

Susan McCauley | Author and Screenwriter

I was born in Webster, Texas and raised in the Clear Lake area. So, boats and spaceships were a big part of my life growing up. My father had a few different boats throughout my childhood, so time on the water, exploring the bay, and water rescue were ever-present. I also attended school with astronauts’ children, and one of my elementary school teachers was an astronaut’s wife. I actually grew-up in Nassau Bay, just across the street from the Johnson Space Center. So, the idea of travel and all the potential for what is possible for humankind were always in my line of sight. I’m not entirely sure, but I think on some subconscious level, that inspired me not to set limits for myself. Read more>>

Zarah Bhader | Realtor

I was born in Karachi, Pakistan and moved to Houston, tx in 1997. Most of my childhood memories are of me being raised in southwest houston. Not the best place in town to be raised but it was home. I was always adapting to my environment because i had to change schools a couple of times growing up. Because of this I made so many friends everywhere I went. I became talkative and a people person! Which helped me become the person I am today ,specially in my new career as a Realtor. Read more>>

Jessica Washington | Author & Photographer

My life has never been easy. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon and a nice, healthy family. My home,Houston, was a harsh teacher. My mother was an addict and I endured abuse at the hands of my family. I was placed into foster care and for 8 years and the best thing that came from those years was my opportunity to have a free education at Texas Southern University. I juggled school and being a single parent and I eventually relocated to Atlanta.I learned so much in Atlanta. I became a photographer and ended up photographing some well respected celebrities. Read more>>

Adley Haywood | Software Tester & Photographer

I was born in New York but I moved to Charlotte, NC when I was 4 years old and spent most of my life there. I moved to Greensboro, NC for college when I was 18, a year after graduating from high school. My mother really had a great impact on my upbringing as she was a single mother of me and my 2 brothers. She would always reiterate to me and my brothers “you should be SOMEBODY, not just ANYBODY” which really helped mold me into the person I am today. Read more>>

Helen Montano | Wedding and Portrait Candid Photographer

I grew up in Houston, TX but my family is from El Salvador. I was raised by my grandparents with a lot of those traditions. I always saw my family and grandpa working extremely hard as a server to make ends meet. Thankfully, I had everything and more but nothing in excess. I was taught that we can be happy with ourselves and with the necessities and minimally. That was really implemented in me. Also just being a kind person and a good soul is the way to true happiness. They also emphasized the importance of education all of my years of growing up. I feel extremely grateful that these morals were implemented in me and I feel like these are the reasons why I have gotten to the place I have gotten and what keeps me going. Read more>>

Ammaar Jamal | Teacher & Food Blogger

My name is Ammaar Jamal. I was born in Los Angeles, CA on July 14th 1993. I have a younger brother who was born and raised in Houston, TX. My parents are from Pakistan. My dad immigrated here in the late 70’s. Whereas my mom immigrated here in the early 90’s. Growing up in an immigrant household is exactly what you would expect. It comes with the emphasis of hard work, education, and a sense of social responsibility. Read more>>

Christine Truong | CMG Financial Loan Originator, MLO NMLS 1761926, CMG NMLS 1820

I was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and my family is originally from Vietnam. My parents fled Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon in 1975 to escape communism and became refugees in the U.S. My parents came here with just the clothes on their backs and growing up as an immigrant family, I saw how hard they worked to sacrifice and save up every penny they had. Along with my grandma, we lived in a small 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment in the city for a few years. Read more>>

Danielle Nakeia | Freelance Designer & Branding Consultant

I’m from Orlando, FL raised by a single mother. My upbringing from my mother impacted me majorly especially being such a creative person. She always taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to and that the sky wasn’t always the limit it was well beyond that. My mother taught me to be headstrong, independent and to always reach the top of everything I chose to do. I’m so grateful that she is my mother, she’s raised a successful black woman – me! Read more>>

Tia Hobby | Entrepreneur & CEO of CLUTCH by Tia Dash

I am from Dover Delaware which is a really small city on the East Coast. I recently relocated to Houston Texas about two months ago. I graduated from
Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland with a bachelors degree in marketing. While at Salisbury University I entered in numerous entrepreneurship competitions that set my business up for the success it has had today. My background in marketing in addition to working as an entrepreneurship consultant while in school have contributed to who I am today and what my business is today. Read more>>

Taurean Jorel | Rapper & non profit community activist

Im from Houston Texas, grew up in the Missouri city area. I grew up in a two parent household, my dad, the serial entrepreneur lol, Has had his own businesses every since I was five years old, I mean the guy owns his own mobile detailing company, a food truck, snowcone truck, game truck and one of the most well known dog kennels in the country. My biological mother, who passed away when I was just 6 years old, Read more>>