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Illuminate x Durham

Updated: Apr 17, 2021

Hi everyone! My name is Akshana and I am a Grade 10 student at Lester B Pearson Collegiate Institute. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x Durham‘s regional conference. Here are my thoughts highlighting what I learned through the workshops, keynote speakers, and the case study competition. In this blog, I will be covering:

  • main segments of the conference

  • what I learned

  • what I am still curious about

We started with our first speaker, Ilona Dougherty. She taught us that we are under the impression of young people becoming something and adults being something. She says young ppl are natural experimenters who come up with more bold solutions than adults. Stay curious and respecting and use adults as a way to unleash your ideas. This was very inspiring.

A few questions I have after the keynote:

  • When in her childhood did she realize that she had to make a change?

  • Were the people around her supportive of her wanting to make this change?

It was very interesting to learn about Cecile Fradin and what she does at McMaster University. Her polls were a great way to engage her audience.


The workshop with Mackenzie Clark was relatable and therefore intriguing. She taught us what imposter syndrome is, how to know if we have it, and how to change our mindsets.

A few questions I have after this workshop:

  • How many individuals in the conference realized they had imposter syndrome and changed their mindsets after this workshop?

  • How hard was it for Mackenzie to let go of aerospace engineering and switch to robotics engineering?

Our other keynote speaker, Andrea Gunraj, says that it’s important to prioritize human rights and I completely agree. It can create a big difference in this world if everyone pitches in. She also shared a quote which I really liked, a picture of said quote can be found below. This quote is directed towards women and states that all women have to work together to “make it” and if not ALL women, we still have much work to do.



The segment I most enjoyed during the conference was the case study competitions. Although it was nerve racking to think about presenting, it was interesting to see everyone else’s solutions. Congrats to the winning teams! I am also very proud of my team as we won the people’s choice award “Who‘s breaking the stock market?”. Go Team 5!

A few questions I still have after this segment:

  • What was the criteria for judging the solutions and presentations of the case studies?

  • What was the solution of the winning team of the case study competition?



There is a lot I’ve learned throughout this experience, some being having the right mindset, changes we need to make in our world, as well as knowledge we could use in future jobs such as how to write professional emails, how to create a promotional marketing post, and how to navigate through it all with a team. Overall, I enjoyed and learned a lot from this experience.



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