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.

Mario Martinez | The Desert Whisperer

I am Originally from Puebla, Mexico, While I was growing up I heard all kinds of stories about wild animals. I always heard that wild animals are vicious and that they could attack you at any moment. People would always talk about killing wild animals to prevent them from harming people. I grew up feeling afraid of wildlife of any kind. That change when I started taking photos of wildlife. I found out that wild animals will not attack unless provoke or threatened. Spending many hours in the wild helped me to see wildlife from a different perspective. Wild animals are just trying to live their lives. In the last few years I have been fortunate enough to be close to many animals in the wild. Rattlesnakes have allowed me to be inches away from them without attacking me, Mountain lions have allowed me to photograph them from as close as 15 feet way. Bobcats have allowed me to watch them raise a family for months at a time. Read more>>

Sarah Browne | Photographer

“Just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world.” – Journey If you are like me, you associate everything with a song. So, when people ask me where I am from, I say “a small town in Arizona” and instantly start jamming out to Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey, in my head of course. If you have not guessed it by now, I grew up in a small town in Arizona called Parker. Parker is home to a little over 3,000 people and sits right along the Colorado River. Parker will always hold a special place in my heart because it helped me become the woman I am today. The Town of Parker has the best community that supports so many with their hopes and dreams. It might be a small town, but it offers so much love, support and some of the best food around Arizona! I might be bias on that, though. If it weren’t for the people in my hometown, I would not have had the guts to move to a bigger city and follow my dreams. Read more>>

Diyar AL Asadi | Artist / Painter

I am a young artist from Baghdad, Iraq and moved to the United States in 2012. I started painting at the age of seven, 3 year before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. My family and I eventually left for Egypt later after militants made two attempts on our lives for sectarian and political reasons. Getting inspiration from watching my mother and family trying to survive and leaving what they know to the unknown. Attending that much struggle with my family at a young age made art my only option to skip to a better reality and repaint my family forgotten stories. Read more>>

Henry Bosak | Realism Painter and Illustrator

I born in raised in eastern Nebraska in a very small town. My work ethic is from that upbringing. You work hard and do the best job you can and I still have that philosophy today. I was also taught that you should treat others like you would want them to treat you. These things have taught me over time that you will never get it perfect but it is definitely something to strive for. Read more>>

Estefany Gallego | Business Owner

I was born and raised in Tucson, AZ and would travel to Magdalena, Sonora any chance I got. It was always a given that I would spend my summers there running in the milpas, swimming in the rio, or in my Nanabuelas warm kitchen drinking some tecito. During my time here, I saw my Abuelos and Tios all work the family business of agriculture. Watching their hard work and dedication ignited a desire in me to become a successful business owner. My parents were always working and each juggled two jobs at one point. Watching their struggle to make ends meet made me realize that there had to be something more out there. After my own experiences of working in the legal field, I realized that I wanted more flexibility once I became a Mother. I circled back and reflected on my family, their agricultural business, my parents strong work ethic, and knew it was my time to take the leap and launch Velitas. I also realized that entrepreneurship courses my veins and I will keep pushing to make my family proud. Read more>>

Claira Dresher | Business Owner, Health Coach & Grad Student

I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States when I was nine years old. As a Korean-American, I was influenced by Eastern and Western philosophies. The values of collectivism (“we” focused) vs. individualism (“I” focused) were equally impactful in helping me find purpose, meaning and life skills to take on challenges and risks. From a young age, I was quiet and humble, but also a strong, independent thinker who challenged rigid social constructs or “norms” that did not make sense. My multicultural background influences my choice to flow with the fluctuations of life instead of resisting. I work tirelessly with integrity towards what I believe in while accepting what I cannot change in the present, and I look for lessons in every experience, whether it be joyful or painful. For me, achieving congruence, or harmony, between doing the right thing and helping others, while also pursuing my dreams is important. One should not come at the expense of the other. Read more>>