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My Amazing Experience at The Illuminate x Durham Case Study Conference!

Hello everyone! My name is Jayde Barnes-Rochester and I am a Grade 10 student current attending Dumbarton Highschool. Getting to be apart of this whole amazing experience was so uplifting and inspiring! I loved how free spirited and motivating all of the special guest speakers were. It felt like a complete honor to have gotten to listen and be in the presence of these amazingly, talented and confident woman who are apart of the STEM community!

Ms. Ilona, the first guest speaker, started us off with a really kick starting presentation on youth and adolescents, and how us as children in youth can speak up for ourselves and let our voices be heard! So inspiring in so many ways! I loved her speech, especially since it was very relatable since it was designed to target her main audience! She did a phenomenal job and I can't express enough how inspired I am to take over my future and go forward as a smart and young person! I will definitely be joining some political party groups in the near future! Thanks Ilona!

I also really loved Dr. Cecile and Andrea Gunraj's presentations as well. As a student in high school, I'm still trying to develop my passions for science, and so watching Dr. Cecile's presentation as she talked a little bit about cells and her research really sealed the deal for me! Also with Andrea's presentation, I really enjoyed her intense discussion about equality and standing up for human rights. It was well thought out and well explained! I loved that she incorporated different visuals as well as videos in her presentation for all her visual learns in the audience (me) to enjoy and really get a chance to properly take something away from her presentation!

And last but certainly not least, I would like to show great appreciation to the guest speakers Mackenzie and Alina for collaborating together and talking about STEM careers. I was very inspired my Mackenzie's work in Software Engineering and working with the biggest company ever which is known as none other then Google! I also loved how she really opened up about her life struggles with Imposter Syndrome as well as self sabotage and how she learned to love and explore her current career! I Also want to express a huge thank you to Alina for also talking to use amongst your reflections and thoughts upon the topics and discussions throughout the whole program!

Thank you so much Mackenzie for this page of references, I will definitely be using these sites going along my path to discovering my future career!

And finally, I would love to give a sincere thanks and best wishes to all the Regional Leaders that were leading this event as well as all the judges and chairs that took part in the voting process as well!

My favorite quote of this whole conference was by the first guest speaker Ms. Ilona. She stated, "Society thinks that young people are growing to BECOME something while adults already ARE something. But that's not the case at all! As a young person you already ARE something, and you have the right to speak your mind!"

Thank you guys so much for everything and I hope to join the Illuminate program again very soon in seek for new adventures, and more ways to unfold my future as a young and smart woman in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math community!!!

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