Where you grew up and your background can often have surprising effects on our lives and careers. We’ve asked folks from the community to tell us about how their background has affected them.

Kattie Jackson | Photographer

I was born and raised in a small town in Upstate New York called Elmira. I grew up with a not so ideal childhood with abuse, neglect, and mental instabilities. It seemed there was very little chance to become more than just a small token in an even smaller town. Once I decided to take the first step in moving, at just 14, I moved from one end of the country to another with my father. Through all my mental health help and moving away from a toxic home, I learned to love the artistic things I still enjoy today. My upbringing has a huge impact on who I am today and how I conduct my business. Though it was one of the hardest times of my life, I wouldn’t be who I am today without going through any of it. Read more>>

Curtis J. Williams | Wealth Advisor, Music Exec. & Entrepreneur

This is always an interesting question for me, as I grew up a military kid, but I call Augusta, GA home. I could be described as a military kid, having had the opportunity to travel the world, but I do call Augusta, GA home having spent majority of my time there. Augusta, GA is known as a little big city located about two and a half hours from Atlanta, GA, Many people know of it as the location of the Master’s Golf tournament. Growing up in a military family had its positives and negatives just as any upbringing would have. A positive would be that I learned about the power of communication and developed an appreciation for people, regardless of cultural differences. A negative, well being extremely honest, doing yard work. Seriously, my family did not believe in letting the kids sleep in on the weekends and watch Saturday morning cartoons like normal kids are expected to do. Read more>>

Wizeguyatl | Artist, Educator & Activist

It’s impossible to overstate how impactful our surroundings and upbringings are in shaping us into the adults we become. Our individual biases have much to do with the settings of our lives. My family is from Guyana in South America. I was born in New York and raised in Atlanta and I feel at home in all 3 locations. Coming up in an immigrant household inspired curiosity about other countries and places within me. Throughout my childhood I traveled to Guyana, Aruba, Mexico, and several islands in the Caribbean and visited family in New York every year until my teens. I credit my passion for researching and teaching history to those very experiences seeing the poverty stricken living conditions of people in third world countries. I wanted to understand how things could ever get so bad. New York, being the melting pot it is, offered me additional diversity in the characters I crossed paths with. New York embodied North American society in overdrive. Read more>>

Regina Sunshine Robinson | CEO

I am from a little town called Tabor City, NC. I grew up with a tremendous village that loved and encouraged me but also held me accountable to high standards. When I was successful, everyone cheered for me. So I knew my decisions were bigger than me. I was living dreams for those who loved me and who believed in me but never had the chance to live their dreams. And I never wanted to let them down. When I won, we all won, and I wanted those wins for all of us. Read more>>

Mong Bui | Photographer & Makeup Artist

I didn’t have the most ideal childhood but I really can’t complain. I’m happy with how I turned out from my upbringing. I am genuine and reliable. My gut feeling can almost immediately tell if a new acquaintance is someone I can trust. I am the type of person who follows my heart. I was born in Vietnam and completed third grade there before my parents uprooted our lives and moved to the United States (where most of my dad’s family had already moved to since after the Vietnam War). My parents were very strict, but they were very loving and caring about my development (they still are). They pushed me to try different things outside of school like dance and piano. But I guess I found my individuality (read: rebellion) early in life because if it wasn’t my idea, I won’t stick to it for long. I only did dance and piano for a few months before throwing a fit and quitting. Read more>>

Sherry Murray | Baker & Cookie Enthusiast

I am from a small city called Albany, GA, where I spent a significant amount of time in the kitchen with my grandmother, Lucille. She taught me how to make my very first cookie recipe for tea cakes. I intern took that one receipt and made so many different iterations of it with whatever supplies we had in the kitchen. You would be surprised with all the substitutions a combinations I came up with. Some of these recipes were delicious, while others needed a glass of milk to make them just okay to satisfy my insatiable love of cookies. Years passed and I stopped baking, until one day I wanted a pound cake. Not just any pound cake, but one of those pound cakes you could only get in the country of southwest GA. So, I went to the kitchen and baked my own. It passed the test for the time being. Read more>>

Eric Evans | Photographer

I am originally from Walnut Grove, a very small town in Mississippi. Being that I am from a small town its a great place to raise a family and to learn great values. my upbringing was pretty normal I would say. I was very much into sports, I played every sport growing up Growing up in a small town as Walnut Grove you learn great values, respect to others, treat everyone with kindness and you will receive that in return. I live by that. My mother always say it’s the little things that matter. in my business i practice patience and respect for others.. Read more>>

Kimberly Parker | Executive Director

I am from Boone, North Carolina, I lived there, in the same house, until I left for college. I had a huge love for sports early on in life and my parents told me that I could play as many sports as I wanted to as long as I kept my grades up. That was exactly the incentive that I needed. I grew up playing tennis, softball, and basketball. I snow skied every day that we were out of school for snow and spent a lot of time in the summer water skiing. For part of my life, my grandfather lived across the street from me and once he moved, he still planted a garden at our house so I saw him a lot. He is a huge part of my story. He was a Presbyterian minister. We played tennis together. I watched for him to drive down our street to work in our garden and I would join him there. Sometimes we talked; sometimes we didn’t. After college, I worked as an exercise physiologist in cardiac rehabilitation. I loved helping people. Read more>>