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Exhilarating Empowerment in Education - SPEAKER TIME with Alina Huang

When you envision education, you imagine spending many years in a classroom with some tests, exams, a pinch of terrible marks causing you a mental breakdown, frustrating teachers and adults, carelessly forgetting everything after the test because your assessment relies on short term memorization and crafting a suitable answer in the moment to the question asked of you, and being attached to a numerical value of which determines your self-worth.

That's quite pathetic indeed.

My name is Kobiga Seralathan, and I'm a grade 12 student at J Clarke Richardson Collegiate who's looking forward to the upcoming conference with Illuminate X Durham, about the Future of Women in Leadership and STEM.

You'd think being in the classroom teaches you how to move forward in life, but the classroom environment never quite captured the concepts of self-discovery, challenging yourself to grow or thinking for yourself instead of hearing how or what to think from the textbook or the teacher.

That's not to say the current education system should be completely eradicated. In fact, we need both book smart and street smart, and combining these in our system would be better for everyone. Since the education system is clearly lacking for now till someone decides to fix it, we can choose to pursue challenges outside of school to grow. There are always chances to grow and discover your thoughts, feelings, and emotions like Alina Huang told us. That reminds me, I should probably get going with the blog.


Woah! Doesn't that person look familiar? gasp it's Alina Huang! Introducing CEO Alina Huang, the Founder of Illuminate Universe who's also Principal of Illuminate Academy.

April 9th 2021 was another one of Illuminate X Durham's weekly activity days leading up to the conference, but it was on this day Alina decided to join us for some Speaker Time. She began by warming up to us, checking in on us, encouraging us to turn on our cameras, and have some friendly chit-chat with her.


I learned much about the professional corporate world, entrepreneurship, and leadership from the session.

Firstly, I learned that grades do not equate to success. Although we have all heard that one before, I never really saw a real-life example before where it proved this notion wrong. That example was Alina Huang. She told us about how she did not do so well with numbers and almost failed her math classes. There's a stereotype ingrained in many minds where if you're good at math, you're set to succeed and that if you don't get math, you're a bit of a lost cause but might get lucky somewhere. Math seems to automatically mean you have logic. They are not interchangeable terms, and Alina demonstrated how you don't need good grades to be somewhere careerwise that's fulfilling and stable. Earlier I was talking about education, and we can see here that education wasn't necessarily (at least in a certain subject that's very applicable to daily life) imperative for Alina to be where she was meant to be.

Secondly, I learned the concept of mental fitness, with a lot of new terminology and viewpoints from Alina.

POSITIVE mental muscles = Sage

  • Your sage decides to handle challenges through positive emotions, such as empathy, gratitude, curiosity, creativity, and self-confidence.

NEGATIVE mental muscles = Saboteur

  • Saboteurs react to challenges, however, in a way that generates negative emotions, like stress, anger, disappointment, guilt, and worry.

You've heard of IQ, EQ, how about PQ?

Positive Intelligence Quotient (PQ) - A measure of mental fitness, the best indicator of how happy you are and how well you perform relative to your potential. PQ can be boosted with practice!

It's the seat of your sage, your true self. When one activates this area, they tap into their powers of great empathy, curiosity, creativity, and fearless focused action. You release endorphins, which make you feel positive, and you'll be a better you while being calmer and clear-headed!

I learned we had 3 core muscles for mental fitness!


    1. Saboteurs generate negative emotions.

    2. Mental fitness requires the ability to intercept these saboteurs and deal with them before they get the best of you.


    1. Handles challenges calmly, while thinking clearly.

    2. Has access to 5 primary powers: Emphasize, Explore, Innovate, Navigate and Activate.

    3. You must boost these powers and know when to utilize them to be the best you can be.


    1. Works with self-discipline and willpower

    2. You aren't in TOTAL control of your mind, otherwise, you'd be able to silence all the saboteurs in your head, which you cannot.

Finally, I learned that leadership is never the same each time, and that it's a constant journey of twisting paths and self-discovery. Even if you're with the same people each time, you will be tested on your ability to be in the place of your followers and yet be able to sacrifice your foot ahead of them for their wellbeing. Leadership is not a power, but it is a service.


If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading my post. I hope this carried information that can change your perspective as much as mine did when I realized these takeaways from Alina's presentation. Have a wonderful day!

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