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Illuminate X Durham, a Conference to Remember!

Hi everyone! My name is Atheesha Venthan and I am a Grade 10 student at Lester B. Pearson C.I. Today, I had the pleasure of attending Illuminate x Durham’s conference. The future of women in leadership and STEM.


The conference began with an opening keynote from Ilona Dougherty. Ilona Dougherty is the Co-Creator and Managing Director of the Youth & Innovation Project. Through her keynote presentation, I learnt many things.

  • Before children were considered economically essential, but are now considered burdens

  • Older generations may try to dim our light, but we shouldn't let that stop us from voicing our opinion

  • To not be afraid and see every choice as an opportunity to create change within your community


Next, we had Dr.Cecile Fradin, a Professor/Researcher in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and an Undergraduate Chair at the McMaster University. She gave a wonderful presentation, and one of the questions she asked stuck with me. She gave a riddle, "A man and his son are in a terrible accident and are rushed to the hospital in critical care. The surgeon looks at the boy and exclaims "I can't operate on this boy, he's my son!" How could this be?" Once all answers were put in, many voted that the father, or grandfather were surgeon. After Dr.Fradin had seen the results, she asked "What about the possibility that it was the mother? How have we not considered that possibility?" Her response had stuck with me.


After that, we had Mackenzie Clark, a Software Engineer whos part of the Cloud Healthcare Team at Google, visit us and share her insight. Through her Career Panel and Workshop, I have learnt many things. I have had an interest in working for Google as a software engineer and being able to see and learn from someone who is working my dream job really inspired me.


With the workshops being finished, it was time for our case study presentations. Listening to others' solutions, I saw many similarities. A lot of teams used biometric software and VPNs for security features. Great minds think alike!


The conference came to an end, with closing marks from Audrea Gunraj, a published author and the Vice President of the Canadian Women's Foundation. Her presentation really helped show how important female empowerment is.


Illuminate x Durham was an amazing opportunity for me, and I am thankful to have been a part of it.


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