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Illuminate X Durham's Amazing Conference!

Hi everyone! My name is Sana Siddiqui 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. Ilona Daugherty, a fantastic keynote speaker, kicked off the meeting. Ilona discussed the special talents that young people own. She also talked about the importance of expressing our views in our society. It is fascinating to learn how she overcame obstacles. She worked to make her voice known in the community. Ilona's speech showed me that it is important to express my point of view even if it is difficult to do so.

We then had two workshops done by Dr. Cecile Fradin and MacKenzie Clark. Dr. Cecile's presentation was a wonderful experience. Her workshop included a lot of interesting concepts. Dr. Cecile talked about various important subjects like mental burden, role models, her journey and even enlightened us about some impressive science. Dr. Cecile included many interactive polls that had so much meaning in it's answers. One of the answers for a question was that the surgeon was a girl. It was interesting to me because I didn't think of that answer at first. Dr. Cecile talks about how surgeons are usually thought of as men, but it's important to acknowledge all the women surgeons out there. Another thing I enjoyed was when she talked about unconscious bias. She showed us how everyone has stereotypes about different groups of people. She said that it was important to make those biases conscious and to combat them. This helped me be more informed of the stereotypes I might make on a daily basis.

MacKenzie Clark's workshop was an eye opener for me. She talked about imposter syndrome and how it's important to be aware of it. She began by asking us some questions that many people, including myself, could relate to. She told us that 70-80% of people feel this way every day. I found that interesting because we all have creative ideas but most of us doubt our capabilities regularly. Mackenzie also led an activity that demonstrated how we all have fields of expertise that others might not be aware of. Mackenzie urged us to stop comparing ourselves to others. She also stated that it was important to stop talking down to ourselves. She made it clear that it was critical to value who we are as individuals and that our most important topic should be oneself. Mackenzie Clark taught me the significance of appreciating who I am and the importance of not undervaluing my achievements.

The final keynote speaker was Andrea Gunraj. I found it interesting when she talked about how it was important to prioritize human rights. She talked about how it was important to take that extra step and to look for ways to make change. Andrea also talked about how everyone should try and be a co mentor. She stated that it was important to be able to let others see what you can't see and to listen to what they have to say. Andrea's speech encouraged me to try and make an impact at whatever I do.

As a whole, I greatly enjoyed this conference. It taught me the importance of believing in myself and how I, as a women can put the best effort forward. I believe as a result of this meeting, I will try and take more initiative in the opportunities around me (clubs, councils etc.). I want to set new goals that will allow me to use my abilities to the fullest and appreciate the things I accomplish. I want to be as inspiring as the other women at this conference who broke barriers and raised their voice. This conference gave me a new perspective on what many other women are doing to pave the way for future generations.


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