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Illuminate X Durham Conference

Hi everyone! My name is Hania Nasir and I am a Grade 10 student at Pickering High. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x Durham’s regional conference. Here are my thoughts highlighting what I learned. The first keynote speaker (Ilona Dougherty) talked about Youth in STEM. I learned that it is important for the voice of young people to be heard in order for a change. Youth are looked over and seen as a burden to society, but Ilona made us realize that youth are actually important in all aspects of shaping our society. This helped me see my inner potential, as Ilona mentioned creativity and innovation is high in young people compared to adults. It was inspiring and eye-opening to understand the impact the youth have!

Moreover, the conference today talked about women in STEM. Through Dr. Cecile Fraser’s (Professor a McMaster University) keynote, I learned that certain stereotypes make us assume that women are less capable to succeed in the field of STEM. She went into depth on why that is completely wrong. Ms.Cecile also talked about her research and her teaching at McMaster. Her journey of becoming a Professor alongside a researcher; the challenges and her path towards success were inspiring as that is something I hope to do in the future too. Later in the conference, Mackenzie Clark a University of Toronto graduate talked about career paths, and mentioned it is okay to switch your career path in University. As someone who is unsure about what I want to do in post secondary, that gave me some hope. Also, I learned that it is fine to stick to extracurriculars that are not related to your career path, it is rather encouraged to join a variety of extracurriculars as they play a vital role in grasping and learning new things.

The case study was the most anticipated part of the entire conference. Though my group did not win, it was still a great learning experience! It was interesting looking and other teams approached the case study too. Finally, Andrea Gunraj, our last keynote speaker of the day discussed some crucial topics related to being optimistic and kind towards others. She gave some substantial advice about being a great co-mentor! Not only was her advice valuable, but it was also motivating.

Overall, the Illuminate Conference was a great opportunity for my team and I. Illuminate had outstanding speakers, along with workshops. Some great lessons were taught that will for sure play a vital part in my future!

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