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Illuminate x Markham- an Experience Like no Other

Updated: Apr 12, 2021

Good afternoon everyone! It’s about 12:47 P.M at the time that I am writing this blog. Let me take the time to introduce myself! Hi, my name is Evan. I am currently a high school student at Alexander Mackenzie High School! Or, should I be more realistic and say that I am a high school student attending virtual school! I know much of you can relate that online school is difficult! With your brother slapping away at his keyboard right next to you or even your mother cooking fried rice in the background, learning has virtually (no pun intended) felt insurmountable. Besides, meeting others and networking has also been a struggle. Lucky, the Zoom tech giant has been the saving grace, bringing social interaction ever so slightly back to normal.


Although COVID-19, has taken away our luxury to meet in person, I had the opportunity today to attend the Illuminate x Markham regional conference over a Zoom call on this warm and sunny Saturday afternoon. I had the pleasure of hearing from keynote speakers Christal Wang, Mashruf Chowdhury, Joshua Liu, and Alina Huang. To save time from your busy schedule, I will only dive into two of the four social entrepreneurs.

Meet Mashrur Chowdhury, an individual coming from humble beginnings who moved from Bangladesh without knowing a word of English. Fast forward many years, he has spoken to 100+ cybersecurity individuals, pitched ideas, won case competitions, and delivered presentations to large audiences. During the Illuminate x Markham’s regional conference he gave an overview of his position as a cyber risk advisory and spoke about the importance of communication with others. Here are a few takeaway points:

  • Cyber Security involves protecting data that belongs to other people.

  • Cybersecurity links business and technology. It quickly gets a company to where they want to be as they do not have to contend with the hassle of worrying about protecting or encrypting their data.

  • EQ, also known as emotional intelligence, is equally as important as academic intelligence. It encompasses communicating effectively with others, managing one’s emotions, and overcoming challenges.

  • There are four areas in which Chowdhury specializes: incident responses, cyber maturity assessments, cyber strategy, and cyber awareness training.

  • Incident response: two types include proactive and reactive. The proactive incident response helps to prepare companies to respond to threats, while the reactive incident response eliminates the threat or "puts out the fires.”

  • Cyber maturity assessments: involves understanding a company’s current security controls and explaining to them how they can improve their security program.

  • Cyber strategy: also involves understanding a company’s current security controls and explaining to them how they can improve their security program.

  • Cyber awareness training: involves encouraging individuals to become better at cybersecurity via training material, such as slide decks and videos.

The next keynote speaker was Christal Wang, the co-founder of Shimmer, a supportive community of young adults dedicated to promoting intersectionality and improving their well-being and health. During her time one of the central topics that she introduced was the theory of change involving a concept called “backward mapping.” It involves starting with a problem, then proceeding to the impact, outcomes, outputs, activities, then finally the inputs. Compared to the traditional method of creating a business where the first steps are examining the problem and identifying possible solutions, backward mapping involves mapping out the steps before a problem and identifying solutions for each step.


To wrap up, Christal explained how when searching for any position in the future, you must be great at it, you love it, you are paid for it, and most importantly, the world needs it.

In addition, she emphasized the seven core aspects to have in one's life include:

  1. Trying new things

  2. Taking risks

  3. Knowing your values

  4. Always learning

  5. Not taking yourself too seriously

  6. Giving more than you take

  7. Having fun

If you made it down here, thank you for taking the time to read my blog! This conference was an eye-opening experience, instilling wisdom that would be used long into the future. The highlight of my experience consisted of the unique opportunity to participate in the social entrepreneurship case study competition with a group of four other driven high school students. This experience was definitely enlightening and full of knowledge and wisdom applicable to a career in any field.