Hi everyone! I'm Raiana, a Grade 10 student from Boston, MA. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x Markham’s regional conference. Here are my thoughts highlighting what I learned about social entrepreneurship. I'll touch upon some of my favorite parts of the day.
We started the day hearing from Christal Wang, co-founder of Shimmer, a mental health start-up matching people to wellness groups. She walked us through her journey of how she got to where she currently is. She took an unconventional path in consulting, from working on septic tanks at Bain to exploring in Rome. This inspired me because I am someone who loves to learn about different problems in many different areas. She showed me that you don't have to stick to just one area, it's totally acceptable to look into whatever interests you. Wang also advocated for staying true to your values because they are "the only thing that is constant". As you can imagine this is extremely important when you are working on many eccentric projects as she did.
She wrapped up her talk by teaching us about something vital in the business world; the theory of change. I loved learning about this because it's something that I can apply right now as I work on different projects.
We then learned about cybersecurity from Mash Chowdhury. One of the most important insights I learned from Mash was about how he overcame his social anxiety. He has spoken to large audiences, talked to important people in the cybersecurity world, and pitched his ideas at several pitch competitions. As someone who deals with social anxiety, it was motivating to see someone in this position. He said that he continued to put himself in uncomfortable positions and each time it got a little more comfortable. Because he has accomplished so much I am inspired to put myself in uncomfortable positions and see where it takes me.
Later on, my amazing team and I participated in a case competition. We had only 75 minutes to come up with a business venture or product that impacted healthcare, poverty, environmental sustainability, or education. Being under such a short time limit the pressure was on. I learned how important it is to divide and conquer. Also, quality over quantity is extremely important. Even though my team only had about seven slides we had a solid idea and were able to finish in third place.
Overall, I had a great day at the Illuminate x Markham conference learning about social entrepreneurship. It left me with a lot to think about in terms of career paths and how I want to impact the world. Whether it was hearing from Alina Huang, founder of Illuminate, or learning about cybersecurity each person brought something new and interesting to learn to the table.