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Illuminate x Durham Conference!

Hi everyone! My name is Marwa 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 from the keynote speakers as well as about the future of women in STEM.

Today was an amazing day filled with lots of learning and interactions. Our first keynote Ilona Dougherty had the pleasure to speak about the importance of the roles that should be taken by the youth in the community. She also mentioned how we are so creative and usually not given a lot of opportunities because our age and how many adults underestimate us, and I agreed with that a lot since we are constantly thinking that our ideas are not enough and cannot make that big of an impact . One thing that really inspired me was how IIona mentioned that we should "stop looking at experiences in our life as learning experiences but instead as new opportunities" since us youth have so much to contribute. I think that will stick with me because I love how it is a new way to look at problems in life and new perspectives can always open up many things. Some other important words of wisdom she gave that I will definitely keep in mind include:

  • Our brains have yet to mature so we should not miss out on our unique abilities while we are still young

  • We should question authority and always be ready to take risks and innovate

  • We should know that whatever we have to contribute has a value

  • To not let anyone turn us into themselves as a way of mentoring but instead keep someone around that helps you shine the abilities you consist

We also were really lucky to get to speak with Mackenzie Clark, who really knew how to keep

a crowd excited and very interactive. She talked about Imposter syndrome which is something new I learned today. It is the constant feeling of thinking that you don't belong and that luck had your side in whatever good things you have accomplished. I think it was great that she mentioned this as a way to show that it happens to the best of us since it was something that affected her but she strived past that and now is happily working for google. I think her mentioning this made a bunch of us including me, realize that we all think like that sometimes but it does not mean that all those thoughts are true but instead they are the bars we are setting for ourselves which can end up making us more accomplished

What I really enjoyed about today's conference was probably the most nerve-racking yet

exciting part of the day which were the presentations. It was amazing seeing all of the great presentations and I loved the different varieties. I also really liked how participants were all allowed to have a little part in the voting and I think that a little thing like that can make a big difference since it made me feel like I had a responsibility for that and it also made the end of the conference more interactive yet fun.

Overall I really enjoyed and learned a lot of things today! I am so lucky that I could take part in such a good opportunity, especially going through with a great group of people who I had really fun working with as well as all the people attending, It just felt like a safe space and full of passionate youth like me.


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