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.

Angelique Davis | Design A Delight Founder & Pastry Chef

I am originally from Newburgh, NY. I am one of five children and Newburgh, NY is an area that falls lower than the poverty line. I remember growing up we were not able to afford extravagant birthday parties and all of us were used to getting sheet cakes and hotdogs for our celebrations. While we were all extremely grateful for what we had and never blinked an eye at it, as I got older I realized my brothers, sisters, cousins and I were never able to experience “high quality”, “fine” cakes and baked goods. Grocery store cakes were affordable to most families in our town and come to think of it, there isn’t even one custom cake shop in my hometown. I’m sure that is because, it is known that Newburgh, NY isn’t the most wealthy and most custom cakes start at around $50 for a small one. Read more>>

Nel Santiago | Creative Director

Born en La Isla Del Encanto, Puerto Rico. My parents moved us to the mainland in the early 80’s. “More opportunity” as the story goes. I was raised in the small town of Elkridge Maryland. But always retained that connection to the island. My parents spoke to us in Spanish growing up, still do. I had a very traditional upbringing. Something I am super grateful for. In school I always gravitated towards the arts. I was a doodler in class. My parents always encouraged it, so I never questioned what I wanted to do for a living. One thing my dad always said was “Don’t worry about chasing money, chase what you enjoy doing. The money will come in time” I took that to heart. In high school, I took Vo-tech. Studied graphic design. It came natural to me. My teacher Mr. Lee took me under his wing. He taught me a lot of the skills I still use today, helped me focus through some tough times and gave me direction. Read more>>

Noel Mirabal | Actor

I was born in Queens, New York, but my family was from Bauta, Cuba. My family decided to come over to the United States during “El Mariel”, boatlift, which was this mass migration of Cubans, who traveled from Cuba’s Mariel Harbor to the United States, particularly Miami, Florida in the 1980’s. We had some relatives already living in New York, so after a short period in Miami, my family decided to move up there. Come 1985, I was born, and a few years later, My grandparents, my mom, and her two sisters decided to move back down to Miami, because they didn’t like the cold. My biological father was sporadically in and out of my life, so a lot of my influential upbringing came from my Grandparents, my aunts, and obviously my mom. So, to make a very long story short before I get to emotional just saying this. Who I am today, whether it be how I am as a father, husband, etcetera, all comes from my grandfather. Read more>>

Beverly Obasiolu | Creative Innovator and CEO of Faschic Magazine

I am from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My background and upbringing made me who I am today because as a child I really didn’t have that much confidence because of my size believe it or not. I was ridiculed because I was skinny, which is crazy because it’s “glorified” today. I had to learn my worth and not to worry about anyone else that couldn’t help me which boosted my confidence. I have this self-worth and this self-love today with a ton of confidence in myself because of my upbringing and people at the time putting me down. Nowhere else but to go up! Learning so much about myself and what I was capable of doing also helped me and had such an impact on who I am today. Read more>>

Lisa Yves | Singer | Composer | Creator

I was born in Queens, New York. My parents were both survivors from Poland who came to New York and became American citizens. Growing up in my household was quite different from my friends who grew up with American born parents. My parents spoke Yiddish and Polish in the house and we lived a very Jewish European life. My mother protected my brothers and me from the “dangers of the world”. There were secrets that were kept from us until much later in our lives. I found out I had a sister from my father’s first marriage who lived in Israel. I was only told this when I was forty years old. Religion was a big part of my upbringing and loomed over my head like a dark cloud keeping me from doing my art. Read more>>

Marisabel Gonzalez | Educator & Entrepreneur

I was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras in 1976. I lived in San Francisco, California my early childhood years. When I was 6 years old, my parents moved back to Honduras for work related reasons.Then when I was 15 years old my parents decided to give my siblings and I a better future, so we made the move back to the US. We sold everything, packed our bags, and arrived in Miami in December 1992. At the time, this change felt like the end of the world to me. I was leaving behind everything I knew, literally! My closest friends, my extended family, my beloved pets, our home, and my culture. I learned to speak English at an early age. However, I never had to use it daily to communicate prior to moving back to the US. Although I was able to understand most, I was too embarrassed and insecure to speak it. This made me an easy target for the school’s bullies. Here I am in a completely foreign country, learning to be social in a language I am not comfortable using. Because of my language barrier I was placed in an ESOL program. Read more>>

Cemone Glinton | CEO of Out of Box Weddings and Author of “Dear Bride You’re Not Alone”

I was born in Nassau, Bahamas and spent most of my childhood there. My background and upbringing played a major role throughout my life. My grandfather was an entrepreneur, he did not realize it then BUT I watched and admired him. I admired the hard-work, dedication and passion. There was a sense of pride for me whenever I saw all that he had done for himself, family and country. During that time I couldn’t say for sure what I wanted to do with my life BUT I knew I wanted to have and build my own. Read more>>