Hi everyone! My name is Ashmal Shoukat and I am a grade 10 student at Victoria Park Collegiate Institute. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x Durham's regional conference. Here are my thoughts highlighting important lessons that I learned. First, to focus on the role of women in STEM and leadership, I found the teachings really relatable as most of the ideas, thoughts and the though processes were similar to mine and I fully agree with them. A moment that I really found fascinating was the one where we had a riddle regarding a son and a father getting into an accident, that riddle unleashed the concept of subconscious bias as even I didn't pay attention and it turned out that the surgeon was female and how the general consensus think about males when they think of surgeons and I found this scenario really fascinating.
One of my favorite things about the entire conference was the teachings and the ideologies of the first speaker, Ilona Dougherty. She had a very interesting approach to youth and how youth and the concept of innovation, tie in together. As she works at University Of Waterloo, and she has discovered that young individuals focus more on learning then being innovative and experimenting with multiple things as youth have a secret ability to learn things faster and being invested in anything and everything and experiment with those things to develop themselves. I find this concept really interesting as I have also learned and do believe that after a certain point, people aren't as intrigued by new things, at least comparing to how much they would be in teen ages.
Talking about the most enjoyable parts of the Role of Women in STEM and Leadership Conference, was the lessons by Mackenzie Clark as I find the concept of Imposter Syndrome extremely relatable and I feel like I connected with her the most. I have also been nervous in my life, thinking that I am not deserving and what do these guys see in me, during certain events, largely academic related. And this was also probably the biggest take away for me as hearing her talk about her personal experience really gives me confidence as you get that feeling that you aren't the only and so many people have been through that. Overall, this is something I would like to work on, and Illuminate and this conference has really helped me by providing me with different perspectives and reassuring me with my weaknesses. Thank you!