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.

Lorena Valdivia Miranda | Pastry Chef & Mother

I’m from Chile, and I grew up in a small city called Rancagua, all my family is still there. Food and homemade baked sweets are an important part of our life, we have to have something sweet for celebrations, for afternoon snack, and always end up a meal with something sweet. Most of the women in my family are good cookers or/and bakers, my younger sister is a chef. My mom was a working mom, but she always had time to cook and to make sweets for us, specially on Sunday, that was the day she baked something for us, when I was in college she had a small cottage business, chocolate bonbons. Growing up for me the kitchen wasn’t something I liked, I studied biochemistry, I was a science nerd. Later I got married and my husband was offered a position in São Paulo, Brazil. Read more>>

Rhonda Jackson Garcia | Academic/Creative Writer and Associate Professor of English at Lone Star College

I was raised in Third Ward in Houston. I grew up in a reading household so we had books everywhere, all the time. But when I was a child and teenager, Black horror writers didn’t have a lot of visibility and I rarely saw Black people in horror movies. I devoured the books and movies, anyway, despite hardly ever seeing people who looked like me. I’ve always been drawn to the dark and my childhood was a juxtaposition between finding happiness with my mother and my siblings and still understanding that outside our family unit, real monsters existed. I used this knowledge and my love of the genre to build a writing career that examines the intersections of the horror genre with race and gender. Whether the piece is a short story or an academic essay, I always center the viewpoints of Black women so readers know our stories and concerns are valid and deserve a spot in horror. Read more>>

Emiree’ Sexton | Creative

I’m from New Orleans, Louisiana. I was surrounded by art, style, music, just all types of flavor and culture. It’s always been apart of me. Read more>>