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Illuminate x Durham: And Experience to Take with me

Hello! My name is Sumayyah Mohammad and I am a grade 10 student at Dunbarton Highschool. Yesterday I had the immense pleasure of attending the Illuminate x Durham regional conference! Living through the pandemic, it can be easy to fall into a slump and become demotivated, so this conference was something that I welcomed with open arms. Being able to be a part of something so inspirational and having the opportunity to learn such valuable lessons from experienced speakers is something truly special and lit a fire inside of me that I hope I will continue to feed throughout my personal and career journey. Here, I would like to share some of my thoughts about the event, as well as the new ideas and information that I had the opportunity to learn about.

Being a young person in today’s society myself, Ilona Dougherty’s keynote speech about the importance of young people and the potential that they have really stuck with me. Ilona spoke about how important it is to encourage youth to nurture their unique skills, talents and minds, to challenge what society deems as normal or right and to take risks. Young people have a fresh minds and innovative ideas, they are able to understand things in their own unique way and that makes them hold an extremely valuable place in the world today. Or, they should. Ilona brought to light how the youth of this generation are seen as burdens, dangerous, in need of control and not able to provide anything to society. As a young woman, this really resonated with me and I felt understood by an adult for once. Her speech encouraged me to really into myself and my abilities, and realize that I have a lot to offer and value my place in society.

The next keynote speaker, Mackenzie, also helped me gain more confidence in myself by talking about Imposter Syndrome and how instead of downplaying our achievements, we should work to recognize that everyone has strengths. You are always offering the world something unique and special, and just as there is always something that you are able to take from other’s knowledge and experiences, someone else is always able to learn from you. I am very grateful for being taught about Imposter Syndrome while I am still in highschool so that I can work on bing kinder to myself and strengthening my self-confidence now.


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