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.

Giuliana Melo | Spiritual teacher, angel intuitive, author, speaker, prayer facilitator, kindness ambassador

I am from a small town and I was raised by Italian parents, who immigrated to Canada when my mom was 8 and my dad was 16. that meant deep roots in faith, family, food and working hard. AS the oldest of four children I was tasked with the duties of helping to raise my siblings. I learned responsibility very young and it has served me well. I am loyal, I am kind, I am generous, I am forgiving and I learned to always consider another’s thoughts, feeling and emotions. As the oldest child, I had to set an example. I was looked up to. I had to behave and be a model to the younger kids. I don’t regret it as it has all molded me into the woman I am today. I am dependable. I say what I mean and mean what I say. Read more>>

Bela Fidel | Seeker

I was born in Brazil. My upbringing placed emphasis on learning and my studies, from grade one through pre-college, were the center of my interests; art was not on the agenda in those years. At age 21 I went to college in Jerusalem, Israel, where I studied English and Spanish Literatures. After 8 years I moved back to Brazil where I worked for corporations and started to learn painting as a hobby. Again, after 8 years, I came to the U.S. to study professional make-up artistry. I painted on week-ends and did not have any serious ambitions to become a full-time artist. Having lived in 3 different countries and being exposed to very different cultures, has defined who I am today. Read more>>

Joanie Wolter | Artist and teacher of Fiber Clay Sculptures

I was born and raised in southern California, a baby boomer! I have no background in art, but always loved to do crafts and try new things. My goal in life from the time I was a child was to be a teacher, and for 37 years, I taught public school I started in 4th grade, then went back to school to earn a degree in math. Afterwards, I taught middle school and high school algebra where I worked with “at-risk” students. When I retired, my husband and I moved to Sedona, Az. and found the Sedona Arts Center, and the rest is history. I had the opportunity to take classes from experienced artists in several different mediums and found my favorite was clay. Read more>>

Stan Kurth | Watermedia and Mixed Media Painter

I was born here in Phoenix and knew from a very early age I wanted to be an artist. My aunt was an artist and teacher and she gave me a small canvas, oil paints and lots of encouragement in her studio where I painted my first oil painting. I was four years old. I knew right then I wanted to be a painter. There has been some resistance between then and now but I have never wanted to do anything else. I worked in the graphic design field for decades, but eighteen years ago I had cancer and decided it was time to do what I’m here to do and quit messing around. I still have that small canvas I painted sixty plus years ago. Read more>>

Thanou Thammavongsa | Creative Designer & Business Coach

I had a very different upbringing, I was born in Paris, France, my parents brought me to the States at the age of 11. From there, I grew up in North Minneapolis without them. I learned how to survive living with different families including an African American family in the inner city for 3 years to a vegan family in the suburbs, to a my history teacher who took me in as a senior in High School. It’s been a long road. As a senior in High School, I realized I was “out of status” with immigration, so I voluntarily went back to Europe and decided to go to college in England where I met my wife in my 4th year doing my Post Grad degree. She was from Phoenix and the rest was history, I returned to where I thought I claimed as “home”. From the age of 11 growing up without my parents and throughout college, I worked hard my whole life to stay safe, educated, innovative and scrappy. Read more>>