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Lessons Learned From Illuminate X Durham Conference

Updated: Apr 18, 2021

Hi everyone! My name is Sanjana Bhandari and I am a Grade 10 student at Pine Ridge Secondary School. Today, I had the pleasure of attending Illuminate X Durham's regional conference. Aside from having the unique chance to spend the day learning about the stories of multiple successfully established women in STEM, I was able to learn so many amazing things!

A few concepts I had the chance to enhance my knowledge about include the following:

- Imposter Syndrome

- Legalities and criminal conviction in Canada

- The fallout of judging others

- General concepts on cells, cell division, deoxyribonucleic acid, and what our cells are made of

To begin with, I was able to learn that younger minds are tremendously creative. I have witnessed numerous situations where my fellow classmates or friends are underestimated as a result of their age. However, one of our keynote speakers managed to tell us otherwise. One example is this conference itself! Having the extremely rare opportunity to present and witness innovative solutions to a case study only comes to show that young minds should never be underestimated with their level of intelligence!

Next, after listening to the wonderful Dr. Cecile Fradin, I learned that simply hearing words can help guide you towards your own journey. So after hearing Dr. Fradin say terms such as "Enzymes, Proteins, Molecules, Bacteria, and DNA" I quickly came to the realization that my passion lies in the medical career field! This is because, I was extremely fascinated to learn about the different processes of cell division and what they are generally composed of!

This leads me to the next major takeaway, which is the effects of internalized stereotypes. Dr. Fradin told us that being blunt about the stereotypes you have of others can severely affect their performance. This is why, it is extremely crucial to remember to always be very open minded and to constantly support your peers, regardless of their race/gender/colour/age.

Finally, I had the fortunate opportunity to learn about a topic I demonstrate extreme interest towards; imposter syndrome! Imposter syndrome is a state of mind where one tends to doubt their abilities to succeed or the power of their own hard work. However, this has the potential of severely affecting your performance as a student or worker, because you constantly doubting yourself may lead to clouded judgement. At the end of the day, nobody knows how much work you put into something other than yourself! So it is very important to begin to feel proud of how much you have accomplished rather than believing that it was a sudden result of "luck".

In conclusion, this conference taught me many things. My passions, my hard work, believing in myself, keeping an open mind; you name it! But above this, witnessing all these successful women talking about their very own unique journeys made me realize that my gender should never be perceived as a limitation to reach my goals. Yes, I am a women and that puts me in a competitive position to pursue a successful career. Pursuing an tremendously male-dominated career, such as medicine, law, or engineering is not an easy task for a woman. But these females proving themselves to be just as intelligent and professional than other men is also one of the numerous things that makes them incredibly resilient, innovative, and passionate!

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