Through our work we have had the good fortune of seeing firsthand how success comes in every shape, size, color, faith, and orientation. More importantly we’ve learned that success is often the result of people embracing their unique backgrounds and so we’ve asked the community to tell us about their background and how it has impacted where they are today.

Danita Tate | I am a self-published author and entrepreneur

I am from Baton Rouge; Louisiana and my background has shaped who I am in many ways. Being the second oldest child of a drug-addicted mother led me to do things that would land me behind bars. I did things that I didn’t want to do for my siblings to have a roof over their heads and food on the table. My past has led me to be compassionate about others and to be an advocate for young girls that are in the situation I once was. Read more>>

Artashia Johnson | Engineer, Photo Booth Owner, & STEM Career Advocate

I’m from Hollywood, South Carolina, a small town south of Charleston. I’ve always been a small-town girl with BIG dreams for as long as I can remember! My parents were both huge advocates of education, hard work, and never letting an opportunity pass you by. I graduated Valedictorian from my high school and continued to Clemson University for undergrad where I studied Industrial Engineering graduating with honors. I have one sister who is a Cosmetics Engineer and studied Chemical engineering also at Clemson University. I started my professional career with GE, where I still work today, currently as an Electrical Commodity Leader negotiating million-dollar contracts and working with global suppliers to help build power plants all over the world! Read more>>

Roy Burks | Restaurant Owner and Chef

I’m Originally from Houston TX and grew up in an area called Hiram Clarke but went to elementary school in an area called Acres Homes because my mom taught at a school in the area. My parents then decided to move to Stafford Tx where i spent the remainder of my childhood. From day one in Stafford it was a culture shock. I was use to being at all black schools and bring one of the smartest kids in my class. When I arrived at Stafford I had no idea how to interact or how to fit in. I chose the class clown route. Read more>>

Eric Michael Ward | Photographer, Artist

I’m from Beaumont, Texas, aka “big money texas,” though I’ve never called it that in my life, except for now I guess. I grew up there, along with my sister and parents, although my parents aren’t from there. My late dad is from North Carolina, and my mom is from Virginia; so, I’m Texan by upbringing. It’s not a family thing, yet, Texas is still home. As a military brat, I lived in El Paso and Killeen before I got to Beaumont just in time for 1st grade year. I grew up in an infamous Beaumont neighborhood: South Park. Read more>>

Nerissa Gomez | Events Director, Painter & Illustrator

My life spanned both sides of the border through my entire childhood. I was born in Brownsville, TX, but I grew up in Matamoros, MX. When I was a sophomore in high school, my family moved to the Houston area. Both Houston and the Rio Grande Valley make up a huge part of who I’ve evolved into as an artist. It wasn’t always easy, though. Despite all of the love and support around me, I have also faced trauma and abuse. It took me a while to realize this, but I have found that I can overcome those hardships and grow through my creative process. By exploring the strength of survival and perseverance in my work, I have been able to develop as an artist and a person. Read more>>