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.

Leopoldo F. Diaz | GM & Partner

I am from Caracas, Venezuela. I have a law background and after pursuing my masters degree in NYC and working for 12 years in Finance, I ended up brewing beer. All of my past 37 years have shaped into whom I am today. Of course country and environment has a lot to do, but also and more importantly family and friends. Beer has always been a passion and I happy of where I am and with whom I am doing this proyect. Read more>>

MWORLD | DJ & Producer

I was born and raised in a town called Southall which is in West London (UK) My background had a positive impact on me as being an Indian, music was a very influential part of my culture. My upbringing probably had the most impact on who I am today, losing my father at a young age left a void and had me a little lost, hanging out till late with no real motive. Not having much direction I could have slipped down the wrong path in life, but I was fortunate enough to have found my way in music, once I got behind a pair of decks I felt a connection and instantly knew it would keep me on the right path. I was lucky to be surrounded by people who looked out for me, I had a friend who would lend me a few records to try and get the hang of mixing and beat matching which I would practice on my older brother’s record players. With DJin I discovered an escape from reality at the time and for that time spent practising I was in another world. So from then I set my goals and channelled all my energy into them. Read more>>

Daniel Torres | Attorney & Entrepreneur

I am originally from Puerto Rico. My background and upbringing, particularly my parents and our family, had a huge influence in helping me become the person I am today. Life happens, we grow, we take on new challenges and we pursue our dreams, especially in the business world, but those foundational values of decency, honesty, hard work, faith and determination were instilled in me by my parents from a very early age. I was never the tallest, the fastest or the strongest, but they taught me to work hard, to never quit, to believe in myself and the talents and skills God had given me to make something of myself. Read more>>

Marlon Sinverguenza (vocals) & Adrian Bureu (keyboards) | Seizure Machine

I was born and raised in Miami, FL. I’m half Cuban, half Venezuelan. My father was a Spanish language talk show host and would push me, from an early age, to be an artist. Around age five, I was presenting him on television and appearing in commercials. As I got older, he had me act on comedy skits on his show, act and be a production assistant in a movie he starred in, and play bongos on his talk show. I actually learned how to play latin percussion from the seasoned Cuban musicians on his show. My love for rapping & producing and my new love for latin rhythms fused thanks to my dad. Thanks to him, I know how to work a crowd and stage fright has never been an issue for me. Adrian: I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. South Florida is a melting pot of a lot of different cultures. In High School my best friends were Peruvian, Dominican, Cuban, Spanish, and Bolivian. Read more>>

Kathy Palma | Musician & Audio Engineer

I was born and raised in Guatemala. At 18 I moved to Miami to go to the Art Institute of Miami for Audio engineering. To this day, what has impacted me the most about coming from a third world country has been the awareness that a slower paced life does exist, and the belief that my career does not come before my family and friends. For a while I got caught up in the need to keep up with the “American lifestyle” and it took its toll on my mental, physical, and emotional well being. I was never satisfied. I kept comparing my journey with others and trying to rush to catch those milestones that I thought I needed to achieve before a certain age to be recognized as somebody successful. Busy was a batch of honor and goal instead of it being a temporary status. I forgot why I work so hard, it is not about the recognition but about the quality of life I want to have. Not just monetary success but connection, relationships and self-care. Read more>>

Johande Serrano | Dance Instructor & Empowerment Coach

I was born and raised in Broward County, Florida. My parents are from a small island called Grenada which is the southernmost island of the north-south arc of the Lesser Antilles, lying in the eastern Caribbean Sea about 100 miles north of the coast of Venezuela. Grenada is also known as The Isle of Spice. I grew up in a single parent household and was raised by a true island woman. Even though my mom was strict, firm, and a true disciplinarian lol I look back now and I see that if my mother was NOT the mother that she was who knows where I could’ve been today. Everything that I am is due to my mother being that strong Grenadian Woman that she in turn raised me to be. As my mother always tells me even now in my adult years with 2 children of my own, “Do Not Underestimate the Strength, Power, Vigilance, and Determination of a Grenadian. Read more>>

Eriberto Jimenez | Executive and Artistic Director of the Miami Hispanic Cultural Arts Center

Coming from a poor upbringing in Bogota Colombia where I had to assert myself and work from an early age influenced how I persevere in life and my work. If there was something that had to be done that no one else would do I would always step in and jump off the deep end and learn from the experience. Making my way from a young age alone in the United States gave me this strength and focus and defined who I have become. Read more>>

Helen Hooper | Executive Director/ Founder of The Lady’s Choice Center For Women, Community Advocate and Organizer, Consultant

My background and upbringing impacted my life tremendously. I was born and raised in Apalachicola Florida down in the panhandle. A very small town that I am thankful for my parents George and Helen instilled values, morals, respect, and the appreciation for working hard to obtain your life goals. Read more>>

Mally Weaver | Artist

I came from a farm in the mountains of Pa. I loved horses, so my grandfather rescued a pony & he & my Dad put her in the back of an open pickup & bought her home. So my early life was giving riding lessons & drawing animals. This early business help train me in organizing & budgeting events. This turned into 32 head of horses & every weekend competing with all my students. I’m certified as an art teacher, a special Ed & early Ed. Teacher. My older sister was profoundly handicapped. When I moved to Fla. I worked in the special Ed field as did many of my relatives. I was showing my painting at the same time. I was offered a job running a gallery & decided to take it & learn the art business. I am now represented in 3 galleries in the keys. The Guild Hall Gallery, the Key West Art Center & Artists in Paradise in Big Pine Key. Read more>>

Xavier Stewart | Clothing Designer

I’m from the Liberty City part of Miami. As you know my business is called “5iveclothing” the “5ive” is a park in liberty called Charles Hadley Park. That’s where I grew up I learned a lot there I played sports from football to basketball. I also attended elementary in middle school right next to the park so since a very a young age I was on “5ive”. As far as my upbringing in our neighborhood it’s very tough and rare for people to be financially successful. Growing up in our poverty stricken neighborhood it’s very tough it’s a lot violence and crime in our neighborhood and it’s either you succumb to the street life or you overcome which the majority of the kids including myself at point succumb to our unfortunate circumstances. My upbringing in my neighborhood taught me perseverance. Without perseverance in our neighborhood it’s almost a guarantee you will become a statistic. I persevered and made something out of myself after I had fell deep into the street life. Read more>>