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.

Kristen Spratt | Lifestyle Photographer

I was born in raised right outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Being from Pittsburgh comes with a deep pride in where you are from, a sense of community, and the type of down-to-earth people who value family and working hard. It also comes with an obsession with our sports teams. One of my grandfather’s worked in the steel mill and was a farmer, and the other owned and operated a funeral home. I can physically observe their legacy when I visit home. Most people from that area tend to stay, and they have built deep roots. There is something to be said about having a sense of history in where you are from. Read more>>

Ryan Van Voorhis | Nude Dude Food – Cofounder and Chef

I grew up in Central Illinois in a small town called Peoria. It was a decent place to grow up, but I moved to Chicago for grad school and everything changed! The culture, the people, the nightlife, but most impactful for me was the food! I was raised in a typical Midwest home so meat and potatoes were a staple. Don’t get me wrong, I still love meat and potatoes, but living and working in Chicago opened my eyes to so many different cuisines. I spent a lot of my free time walking the farmer’s markets, and exploring different neighborhoods all which offered their own small businesses and unique food offerings. Read more>>

Jesse Crock | Artist

I’m from Golden, Colorado and when people ask, they are always surprised I live where I grew up. I feel a swell of pride growing up and now raising my family. The city has been a blessing as an artist and been able to work with them on various artistic projects like several murals in town. Read more>>