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Healthy Flowers Blossoming - Regional Conference

Illuminate x Durham | April 18, 2021

I am referring the participants of Durham Regional Conference to healthy flowers blossoming, and the reason for that is because, everyone who competed in this competition did not just leave today with knowledge on their presented case study. Today, all of us left with words of wisdom, which will truly resonate with us moving forward in our professional and personal life. The keynote speakers: Ilona Dougherty, Dr. Cecilia Fradin, Mackenzie Clark, and Andrea Gunraj, shared to us rich knowledge that can ignite us, youth to be greater than our expected potential.


Ilona Dougherty - Co-creator and Managing Director of the Youth & Innovation Project at the University of Waterloo

One of the key takeaways from Ilona Dougherty is she touched upon some important topics that strongly resonate to youth contributing to society and making our voices heard.

1) The more time you spend in education, the more time you can spend time for identification. Thus, builds upon our unique abilities as youths.


2) As youth we should constantly look for opportunities to contribute to society. Think of ways to question authority, challenge the status quo, and become the innovation of engines. It’s important to recognize that as youth, with new ideas/wisdom/knowledge amazing things will happen!


3) Find folks with experience, find those people and work with them. Work with political parties, and stay curious! Really work together with adults to make a difference. It’s important to stay at the table, and make sure to contribute and stay true to your values.


Dr. Cécila Fradin - Undergraduate Chair at McMaster University, Professor and Researcher in the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Moving on to Dr. Cécila Fradin's keynote presentation. As someone that is interested in the STEM field, Dr. Cécila Fradin did an amazing job of keeping the me engaged the whole time. Her explanation of the bacteria moving as noted in the picture below, kept me excited as it combined both biology and physics. Dr. Cécila Fradin's lab emphasized that living systems are dynamic. She shows a clip of bacteria moving based on the electromagnetism, as the bacteria has a flagellum which allows to move. It was amazing to see in the clip, how fast the bacteria was moving just by the change of direction in the electromagnetism. An interesting fact that I learned was the magnetotactic bacteria use the electromagnetism to navigate along the earth’s magnetic field to find oxygen.


Mackenzie Clark - Software Engineer at Google

Furthermore, I learned from our keynote speaker, Mackenzie Clark is imposter syndrome. To sum up, Mackenzie emphasized the importance of finding yourself in a community. She explained how when discussing a topic, the best topic should be about YOU! To elaborate, she explains that only you know yourself and your accomplishments better than everyone else.

Some of the key ways to beating imposter syndrome is:

1) Stop comparing ourselves

2) Stop talking negatively of yourself

3) Focus on your values, not perfection

4) Practice your power poses (Before a start of the day or even a conference, doing poses like superman pose, can boast your confidence)

5) Make your own pump up playlist


Lastly, a big lesson I learned from the Chair of the Illuminate x Durham, Zupaash Naveed is that competency can be taught, but your values and passions can not be taught. I believe this message resonates to all of us, if we want to achieve things in life, that is beyond our reach!

Connecting back to what I said in the beginning about us leaving the conference as healthy flowers blossoming. I truly believe this conference helped me and many other individuals become even more confident in our abilities. I will continue to use the knowledge I learned from being a member of the Illuminate Universe.