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Perspective and Prejudice: Learning from Alina Huang at Speaker Time Conference


Photo by Joshua Sortino via Unsplash


The last Durham x Illuminate meeting was unlike any other as we had a special guest, Alina Huang! Amongst the invaluable insight, Huang shared, a highlight was that leadership is a way to grow as a person and is ultimately a journey of self-discovery. It is constantly changing as leadership presents itself in different ways for individuals, most significantly our experiences at school and our education doesn’t define who we are!


Hi! My name is Jenna Hussain and I am a grade 12 student at J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate. I was delighted to have the experience of attending Illuminate X Durham’s Speaker Time conference, and here are my thoughts and highlights of the event!


Alina Huang, Illuminate CEO


Without further ado, I present Illuminate CEO, Alina Huang! It was a pleasure to have her join us at the last regional meeting for some ‘Speaker Time’. While the idea of speaking with a CEO seems daunting, Alina had a warm and welcoming presence as she encouraged us to have friendly conversations, checked in on everyone and encouraged individuals to turn on their cameras!


Going into this conference, I had assigned great—actually immense—value to my grades and average in relation to my success as an individual. The tedious assignments, long days and nights filled with projects and assessments, the stress of exams and tests do in fact make up a large portion of my life. However, after hearing the inspiring words of Alina I self-reflected and decided to rethink what truly defines me as a person, and I can assure you it’s much more than a numerical value.


Of course, education within classroom settings is of importance, especially if you are pursuing post-secondary education, but it doesn’t provide you with real-world experience and the skills you need to achieve personal growth, fulfilment and achievement outside of academic environments. It is valuable, and in fact, imperative to have a balance between academic knowledge and real-life experiences. As Alina had shared, there are endless opportunities outside of school to discover your identity and passions!


In addition to learning about Alina’s industry experience and pathway, we participated in an activity where teams came up with a business idea given two pictures! It was eye-opening to hear all of the creative and unique ideas proposed by each team member as it truly demonstrates the importance of valuing the opinions of others because the possibilities are endless. Honestly, this activity helped me to view the subject of business differently. Now, I associate the world of business with creativity, teamwork and innovation.


During this session, I learned more about leadership, mental fitness, entrepreneurship and the corporate world than I could have possibly imagined! So often are subjects like math associated with inherent intelligence and future success, but Alina successfully proved this wrong. It was motivating to see that such a successful leader as herself did not fare well with numbers in school and nearly failed her math classes, and managed to achieve so much later in life. One's performance in school doesn't predetermine their potential.


Lastly, the greatest takeaway from this conference was that being a leader isn’t about being in power, but doing a service to your team. Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post, hopefully, your perspective may have changed after reading this as mine did after the conference.

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