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.

May Matta-Aliah | Certified Wine Educator, wife, mother and cat lover

I was born in Beirut Lebanon where I spent the first 19 years of my life. Lebanon is a compact but geographically diverse country where you can enjoy a swim in the Mediterranean during the day and a 50 minute drive later, you can spend your night comfortably sleeping in your mountain home where evening temperatures dip by a good 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also this diversity that makes Lebanon a terrific wine-producing country (much to most peoples’ surprise!) Growing up, as soon as the school year was over, my family would relocate to the village where we spent our summers. At the end of each summer we would drive to the Bekaa Valley, the agricultural breadbasket of Lebanon, and stock up on supplies for the winter like dried legumes, fresh onions and garlic, but most importantly wine. Read more>>

Paul Eubanks | owner, fine art gallery

My parents were born and raised in East Texas, but I was raised all over the country due to my dad’s job. It was an interested experience taking a Southern accent and small town ethics to such places as Rhode Island and downtown Los Angeles. This broad exposure to various cultures and people has really helped me personally and in the gallery business find commonalities with people I meet personally and in business. While I never really have a “hometown” to go back to, I would not change a thing! Read more>>

Thomas Rice | Owner of Javelina Tree Work

I’m Phoenix born and raised. I love being able to say that. There are not a lot of people who are originally from Phoenix and few of those from Phoenix stay. I haven’t stayed in Phoenix my whole life but after getting away for a while I came back to her. I spent my four years of undergraduate in Flagstaff, AZ and took a semester abroad to Costa Rica. Throughout these years, I fully developed my love for the outdoors. This development occurred through outdoor recreational activities such as: trail running, backpacking, and rock climbing. In addition to living in Flagstaff, AZ for my undergraduate, I worked out of state over each summer break. Read more>>

Ryan Kimball | A teacher with Oregon roots but a desert dirt bag at heart.

I am from the beautiful Pacific North West region in Oregon. I grew up in a small town an hour East of Portland called Hood River. Hood River is famous for being a mecca for the active lifestyle. People come from around the world to enjoy all the outdoor activities. We have Mt. Hood that has year round skiing, the Columbia river that allows for all water and wind sports, epic mountain biking 10 minutes out of town and endless opportunities for hiking and backpacking. Not only do we love our outdoor sports in my home town but we love our alcohol. We have endless microbreweries and the valley provides the perfect environment for wineries. Read more>>