Hi everyone! My name is Sana Ahmed and I am a Grade 10 student at Agincourt Collegiate Institute. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x Durham’s regional conference. Here are my thoughts highlighting what I learned about the future of women in STEM and Leadership. After meeting many different strong women, and hearing their stories, I realized we have come a long way as Women in the STEM section. I learned many different things from all the speakers, they had all covered different things which was very informative for me. From Ilona I learned to not wait until you become an adult to try and make a difference, because you are then missing out on all the amazing things you possess when you are still young. Growing up I was told to listen to adults and not to question them because that is considered “backbiting”. However, today I learned from Ilana that it is okay to be curious and question adults and make them flustered, as long as you’re respectful and stay true to yourself, you can make a difference! Ilona told us that it is important to join councils and political parties to work together with adults to make a big difference. Andrea had presented to us her values which was very interesting to look at because they were ordinary things that had so much value. She says to prioritize human rights, whether that be having a conversation with your family and friends, or educating others within your community or school. She also mentions how everyone should be a co-mentor because it will definitely benefit you, by critiquing others and vice versa, everyone can become the best version of themselves. Andrea also shared with us the “Pillars of Impact and Change” I thought this had many important ideas that everyone should know, these pillars include ending gender based violence, building economic development, building girls’ confidence, growing leadership, and improving policies, practices, decision making. Today, the part that I most enjoyed would without a doubt be the case study presentations. It was very interesting to see other groups present their ideas and see how different everyone's minds are. It was amusing to me that even though we all got the same piece of information, we all came up with very different ideas. After today I will definitely be applying what I learned to my future goals and my personal developpement. I will question my authority and stand for my beliefs and values while of course being respectful. I will try to have someone I can be a co-mentor with, whether that be a friend, sibling, or a stranger, with this we can both always find ways to improve ourselves. Overall, I learned a lot today with Ilona and Andrea and the other guest speakers. I was very fortunate to be able to attend this conference with Illuminate x Durham and I am very excited to see what comes next!