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.

Kj Johnson | Entrepreneur

I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania more specifically a town called Penn Hills, just a few miles from downtown. I come from a small family, the youngest out of three boys. Being the youngest brother I learn so much and it made me become a mature young man faster than others, especially because my older brothers have always been good leaders. When I was real small my parents moved me and my older brothers from a tougher neighborhood, we didn’t grow up rich but both of my parents worked hard and long hours to take care of their kids. Read more>>

Glynisha Williams | Master Braider

I’m from Miami , Fl from a hood called Overtown Miami . You may know of Overtown Miami if you’ve ever watched First 48. Overtown is known because of all the violence that goes on in the neighborhood, but it’s also a historic place. My background had an impact on where I am today because I use to watch everyone around me and they were all hustlers . They all supported you all around. I remember when I was 15 years old doing hair in my mom’s living room, I was booked and busy everyday. I remember one of my “aunts “ would tell me to grab a young lady from apartment such and such and do their hair . Read more>>

Robin Johnson | Rob The Blonde Mechanic

I was raised primarily in New York City. Split time between Brooklyn and Queens. You can definitely say I am from the school of hardknocks. I remember seeing the park littered with crack vials, like skittles on the ground. My teachers would tell me to never be a bad product of my environment and the way out of poverty is through education. Easier said than done. I was torn between being book smart surrounded by the hood. I learned a lot about drugs and hustling at a young age. I didn’t see the point of getting good grades because that didn’t get me Jordans or name brand clothes, didn’t keep me from being poor. By 15 I had dropped out of school and was living with my drug dealer boyfriend. Read more>>

Nicole Samuels | UTSI, Board Certified Trichologist, AADP, HOLISTIC HEALTH PRACTITIONER

I am from Pleak, a village in Fort Bend County, Texas, situated within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area. It’s fair to say that my background and upbringing had a major impact on who I am today. My family are from Jamaica; they’re upbringings and the way they go through life is a lot different to how Americans do. There are certain things you don’t speak on. Because of this, I lacked the necessary tools needed to understand womanhood and didn’t receive knowledge on what to do and what not to do. Despite this, becoming a woman changed my life and helped mold me into who I am today. Read more>>

Clarissa “Clare” Alderman | CEO, Licensed Professional Counselor

I am from a small rural town in Georgia; it is a relatively small town where everyone knows everyone. Growing up in rural community afforded me to experience small town business opportunities. The disadvantage was the limited resources offered to children, no extracurricular activities such as tutoring, mentoring, nor afterschool academic assistance. No locals, lack of mental health resources, and lack of industry or quality employment. Residents in rural communities often face shortages of behavioral health providers and services due to lack of transportation, lack of insurance, lack of education about services offered, etc. (LPCA, 2017). Read more>>