Hi everyone! My name is Natalin Aloysius. I am a Grade 10 student at Pickering Highschool. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x Durham’s regional conference. It was an amazing day, filled with fun discussions, inspirational keynote speakers and a thrilling case study competetion.
To begin, the career panel Q + A, featuring Mackenzie Clark, helped answer any questions about transitioning from childhood to adulthood. Mackenzie shared with us her inspirational journey and emphasized that it is okay to fail and not know what to do in the future.
She also touched base on the issue of Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome is when one feels and thinks that they are not as competent as others perceive them. Mackenzie clarified that looking down on yourself can take a toll on your physical and mental health and explained how significant it is to motivate and believe in yourself. Mackenzie taught conference participants how to survive and thrive in modern society and the STEM community.
Moreover, the keynote speaker, Ilona Dougherty, taught the crowd about being involved in your community. She explained how important it is for youth to be involved in organizations and teams. As youth are more creative, assertive and constantly wanting to improve the world, it is important for them to be involved in their community. She also explained that contributing to worldwide issues will not only help our work experience but will also leave a powerful impact on adults. As Ilona said, adults see teenagers as "unworthy" and "dangerous". To eliminate these stereotypes on teenagers, it should be our top priority to prove that we can be helpful to society.
Finally, participants of today's conference had the opportunity to compete in a thrilling case study competition. The case study asked kids to create a solution to protect servers in a hospital from privacy breaches. The topic chosen was one where we had the freedom to create innovative and creative solutions. As well as this, the competition not only allowed us to display and improve our leadership skills but also allowed us to learn more about STEM; more specifically computer science.
Overall, Illuminate x Durham’s regional conference was an amazing experience that taught me about life after high school, the significance of being involved in your community and the importance of women in STEM. Illuminate x Durham’s regional conference gave today's participants new insight into STEM and showed every girl that attended the conference, that women can work in the field of STEM, as well.