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Illuminate x Durham Conference

Hi everyone! My name is Thamira Seralathan and I’m a grade 10 student at Lester B. Pearson CI. Today I had the pleasure of attending the Illuminate x Durham regional conference which went in-depth about future women in leadership and STEM! Here are some of my thoughts highlighting what I learned.

First off, I'm going to be talking more about what I learned from the opening keynote speaker Ilona Dougherty and the words of wisdom she gave us towards questioning authority and having your voice heard at a young age. She talked about her personal experiences with sitting at the table and questioning authority as at one point she was not heard and felt as if they just wanted her presence there rather than her voice. Even though this made her feel down and she wanted to lose hope she knew she couldn't and kept trying to ensure that everyone would hear her voice. Ilona also touched upon working with adults who have gone through and experienced what you want to learn more about so they can give you some insight and mentor you, however, she mentioned that mentorship is not when the person mentoring you tries to turn you into them, it's when they try to help you become a better version of yourself and help you achieve all your goals. These words struck me as they gave me a whole different point of view.

Secondly, I’d like to talk about one of the workshop speakers we had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know which was Mackenzie Clark who is currently working at Google. She focused on Imposter Syndrome, which I had no clue about before this workshop, however, I’m so glad I got to learn about and realize what it is while I'm in high school rather than later on in my life because even Mackenzie herself said how she’d wished someone had told her about Imposter Syndrome at a young age as she struggles with it herself. After completing the self-assessment activity she gave us during the workshop, I also realized that I have imposter syndrome myself.

Picking what I enjoyed most out of the Illuminate x Durham conference is pretty hard as it was overall great, but if I had to pick, I’d probably pick the case study presentations. Now, don’t get me wrong it was nerve-racking to present, but after my team and I did present it wasn’t so bad. Regardless of the fact of me being nervous, I was amazed by the unique and creative solutions all the teams had come up with.

Overall, I had an amazing experience from preparing for this event with my team to the day of the actual conference. The case study, weekly team assignments and meetings, to the workshops and keynote speakers, everything was very fun and engaging as it allowed me to learn more about the business world, and the future of women in leadership and STEM. I’m very thankful that I had the opportunity to attend this event!

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