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Illuminate x Markham: Focus on the Journey, Not the Destination

Updated: Apr 11, 2021

Hi everyone!

My name is Olivia Chen and I am a Grade 10 student at Dr. Charles Best Secondary School. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x Markham's regional conference. Here are my thoughts highlighting what I learned from the keynote speakers and how I will apply this knowledge.

Starting off the conference was Christal Wang's workshop session about her professional journey. She greatly emphasized experimenting with 'trial and error', something I resonate with. To ultimately create a desirable life, one must go through many different pathways, even if some are unenjoyable. Additionally, reflecting on one's values when making personal and professional decisions is vital as they assist with directing one's efforts to something one would truly enjoy. For instance, one of Christal's values was 'service'. As she understood that she wanted to give back to her community, she started Shimmer, a mental health start-up. This initiative opened doors; Christal was able to create things, understand people, see change, and feel alive all through a social issue she is passionate about, conquering the stigma surrounding mental health. Although it was a risky decision for Christal to leave school to start a business, she followed her values. Thus, do not be try new things; it is the only way that one can grow.

Furthermore, I learned from Mash Chowdury to choose a career that suits YOU the best. He elaborated on how he endured a challenging first year in university, as he found it difficult to adapt to the Canadian culture coming from Southeast Asia. Moreover, he could not hold a conversation as he battled with social anxiety. However, he persevered and honed these areas of improvement by speaking to 100+ cybersecurity individuals, pitched ideas, and participated in case competitions. Now, Mash works as a cybersecurity analyst at Deloitte Canada, proving how one must commit to challenging themselves in order to grow. I was deeply inspired by this as I similarly experience social anxiety, which I am trying to alleviate by participating in case competitions like Illuminate x Markham.


Ultimately, I would like to thank Illuminate Universe and the Regional Leads for hosting such an insightful, engaging, and organized conference. I have learned a ton, and will definitely apply this knowledge to future personal and professional goals.