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.

Alex Brown | President of a non-profit & Ph.D. candidate

I was born and raised in Yuma, CO, a small agricultural town on the eastern plains of Colorado. I grew up on my family’s farm and ranch that has been in my family for over 114 years producing corn and raising cattle. Living on a farm and ranch truly set my foundation for work ethic, discipline, and patience. When I was 16, I was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes (an incurable autoimmune disorder). That flipped my world upside down because living in a rural town, the diabetes resources available are limited, and I felt alone and afraid most days and frustrated. Being an athlete in high school, I quickly learned that I was responsible for my diabetes and that blaming others (even the doctors) was not fair or best for me mentally. Read more>>

Kate Firoved | Local Business Owner

I grew up in Colorado Springs. Colorado is such a beautiful place with mountains, forests, huge rock formations, and breath-taking views. Being surrounded by open spaces and fresh air has had a huge impact on me and my business goals. We value the environment at the shop; composting, recycling, and emphasizing zero-waste whenever possible. I have lived in a few other places, but my heart has always been in Colorado, so I wanted to contribute to the positive growth of the state. Supporting local artists, makers, and charities helps to support our local economy and causes. I also believe the vibe of Colorado can’t be beat. The positive impacts of such a beautiful area are felt in the reduced stress and welcoming mood. Read more>>

Sarah Walton | Author and Speaker

Originally from the Chicago suburbs, I grew up with two older brothers and was fortunate to have parents who were both loving and supportive. As a child, I spent the majority of my younger years on a field or a court, setting my eyes on a college career by the time I began high school. Overall, life was good. I had a loving family, was thriving in athletics, and had my eyes set on a clear path that seemed to be a sure thing. Read more>>

Anthony J. Clark | AvNerd & Artist

I spent twenty-years growing up in the Air Force, so that’s always a wide question. However, I was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, where our first base was at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (then-McGuire Air Force Base). From that point, we’ve been stationed at Columbus Air Force Base, and Joint Base Andrews/Ft. Belvoir. I’ll always be a DM[V] (D.C./Maryland/Virginia) guy, though! Read more>>

Chad Gilbert | Landscape Photographer and woodworker

I grew up in rural Montana, surrounded by mountains. My parents were blue collar workers who were always trying to make ends meet. From an early age, my parents instilled in me a rock solid work ethic. In fact, my Dad was the the hardest working person I knew. He taught me that nothing is unreachable with hard work and effort. He also taught me that the hardest part of any problem is figuring out whether or not its possible – the rest is just research, time and sweat. Read more>>

Adam Bartczak | Trombonist, Composer, and Educator

Born and raised in Denver!  I was late to the first day of band in 4th grade.  I wanted to play the saxophone, but all that was left when I got there was a trombone.  My teacher, Rod Buckner (of the long-time local group Buckner Funk and Jazz) encouraged me and I took to it enough to continue playing…for the next 30+ years. Another local legend, Ron Miles, came to Morey Middle School when I was in 6th grade and taught all the band kids the B flat blues scale, a basic introduction to improvisation. That’s when I really became interested in music.  Ron, a lifelong personal mentor and friend, is now also my colleague at Metropolitan State University of Denver, where I teach jazz trombone and theory, among other music courses. He is a great example of one of the many older cats who encouraged me in my youth and who I now get to play with side by side (when I’m lucky). Read more>>

Brenda Martinez, RMT | Reiki Master Teacher & Modern Day Mystic

I am a Colorado Native, born into a Catholic family, my mom was heavily involved in the church until her divorce in my early teens. I also went to church with my grandma; Southern Baptist. As a teenager I would go to church with my girlfriend’s family to a Lutheran church. My mom eventually joined a Christian church and for years I went with her there too (on occasion). Throughout all of this I was lead to believe that anything metaphysical, magical or otherwise woo-woo was bad, of the devil and not to be touched. Read more>>