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My Illuminate x Markham experience

Hey everyone! My name is Aidan Lao and I am a Grade 11 student at Sinclair Secondary School. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x Markham’s regional conference -- and I want to share my thoughts highlighting the valuable lessons from the speakers and about social entrepreneurship:

The speakers shared their life journey and a variety of experiences that helped them to get where they are today. I learned that these experiences would not be possible without a certain mindset -- taking risks, trying new things, always learning, and having fun. During the workshop, we learned about the theory of change -- an important framework to plan and achieve impactful goals. To summarize, I learned that the theory of change has 7 main points to consider: Outcomes, Activities, Inputs, Outputs, Enablers, Evidence, and Assumptions.

I find that this framework is key to social entrepreneurship, allowing one to effectively carry out entrepreneurial ventures that make real social impacts.

Illuminate has taught me that social entrepreneurship is not only about using social issues as business opportunities, but also making a positive and tangible social impact that improves the world. Social entrepreneurship plays an important part in our communities, allowing people to make a difference.

The second workshop was about the ins and out of the cybersecurity industry.

The speaker talked about his role in cybersecurity where he responds to cyber threats, trains other on cybersecurity, and works proactively to prevent cybersecurity problems.

Generally, I learned that cybersecurity is an ever-growing field that is essential in today’s online world.

I enjoyed the Q&A with the industry professionals the most -- I learned a lot: For example, Alina taught us the importance of meeting new people and connecting with others outside of our comfort zone in high school. Although people usually stick within their own friend groups, interacting with different types of people is an important life skill that can get you a long way.

I will apply my learning in future career goals by connecting the concepts to the things I am interested in. For example, I am currently in a non-partisan non-profit organization mobilizing young voters and advocating for social issues -- the theory of change is beneficial to me when thinking about the goals I want to achieve through this organization. Additionally, the lessons learned in cybersecurity apply to me in my future career as a software engineer.


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