Positive Outlooks for 2021: Head up High Queen!


Did you know that the first person to have been awarded the Nobel Prize twice was a woman? Marie Curie was a physicist and chemist who discovered radioactivity in elements and invented a mobile X-ray unit. She won her first Nobel prize in physics in 1903 and later won a Nobel prize in chemistry in 1911.


Later in the 90s, a woman's skills and calculations of orbital mechanics were crucial in sending the first Americans to space. Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician, played an important role in helping NASA send an astronaut into orbit around the Earth, as well as, to the moon for the first time in American history.


To celebrate the talent and work of women, we, as the Durham x Illuminate team, have been working exceptionally hard to organize a conference about "The Future of Women in Leadership and STEM". On April 17th, 2021, high school students will participate in various workshops and a case study while also receiving guidance and experience on desired leadership and STEM topics. Through the conference, we hope to encourage women to thrive with confidence with the spirit of collaboration in mind, as well as, help prepare the next generation of female leaders for future STEM careers and leadership positions. Throughout the planning stages, all of us have grown and learned various things. Today, we hope to share a few of our experiences with you!


Mishal Akbar - Associate Regional Lead for Speaker Outreach

“Often we focus on learning and education as taking place within a classroom. However, we forget the daily experiences that indirectly contribute to our learning, perhaps as the most important contributors. The interactions we have with our family, friends, and strangers shape how we understand ourselves and the world around us. Going into my first Illuminate meeting as a Regional Lead Associate was one such transformative experience that I could already tell would have a lasting impact on me. I have always been an introverted individual so going into this role, I was terrified of how I would perform in it. However, as the meeting began to unfold, I found myself breaking out of this shell that I had surrounded myself in and taking chances that surprised me. Through it all, I learned not only about the team that I would be working with for the next few months but also about myself. I learned that my passion overrode the fear that held me back, a learning experience that I now know will guide me in my role and beyond this program. So here’s my tip for you, always remember that you have to go through the hard and uncomfortable times before making it to the comfort called success.”


Poonthalir Linghan - Associate Regional Lead for Recruitment and Registration

“The phrase "Don’t be afraid to take risks" is repeatedly thrown around. I have heard it so often that without a thought "I know, I know" has become my automatic response. I have never thought about nor understood this phrase as much before. As someone whose biggest fears include failure, it is something I have always needed to hear and take in. Learning to take risks means learning to accept mistakes to grow as a person. Taking risks can help to improve confidence and increase our capacity to recover from difficulties. Besides, never having that uneasy feeling of wondering what could have happened. Living in your comfort zone is living in a world of mediocrity. Successful people do not only colour inside the lines. Lifes' greatest accomplishments require taking risks. 'It's better to have tried and failed than to live life wondering what would've happened if I had tried.' - Alfred Lord Tennyson."


Nafia Nadeem - Associate Regional Lead for Digital Presence and Marketing

“One positive outcome I learned from our first mentorship meeting is the importance of having a growth mindset. Having the belief that you are in control of your ability to learn and improve is what drives one to their own path to success. I believe that your mindset plays a crucial role when it comes to coping with your feelings and achieving big things during the challenges and opportunities that life throws at you. An inspirational saying by Wayne Dyer, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”, explicitly explains when your thoughts are optimistic and meaningful, when you are just looking for the good, then your life will turn into the beautiful experience that was always meant to be. Furthermore, I am confident to say that each member in our team has so much potential to grow more, and to be able to work with a group of individuals that share similar values, visions and goals ensure me that we will accomplish the impossible together!”


Prusti Patel - Associate Regional Lead for Recruitment and Registrations

“Something very crucial that was shown through our mentorship meeting and the internal meeting was flexibility. Everyone was extremely enthusiastic and flexible about their roles, timings, themes, etc. While looking through multiple quotes to find goals, we came across a quote stating how we should 'be stubborn about our goals but flexible about our methods'. We demonstrated this during our meetings and are enthusiastically working towards our goals. Everyone is very quickly and efficiently executing our plans and are willing to be flexible and adapt to changes that are being made.”


Richa Patel - Associate Regional Lead for Speaker Outreach

“Self-doubt is a massive obstacle you will face in life. We compare ourselves to hundreds of people, but in fact, this is a waste of time. It is a race that no one has ever won. We always make comparisons, so no matter how much progress you make, you will always find someone new to compare yourself with. There is always someone who is doing better than you at something. Thus it becomes a race we end up losing. So, instead of comparing yourself to other people, instead of doubting your self-worth, why not compare yourself to how you did yesterday? Look at how much better you got. Look at how much you’ve grown. Butterflies can’t see their wings. They do not know how beautiful they are. You are busy doubting yourself while some people are intimidated by your potential. So quit asking yourself, “what if I fall” and think about what if you fly.”


Zupaash Naveed - Chair of Conference and Regional Lead for Conference Design and Customer Experience

“Open-mindedness. There is a lot we have been able to learn from this pandemic we’re in right now; nothing is for sure, and we don’t know everything. Being open-minded is crucial as it can open new doors for individuals and give them the knowledge they didn’t know they could possess. This trait can allow one to explore new paths and contribute to personal growth as they absorb new information or ideologies that may not necessarily align with them to begin with. This pandemic has forced everyone to adapt, grow, and change. Resilience comes from being open-minded. Never forget; this world is full of so many different wonders, but you will only be able to tap into them if you remain open and permissive.”


Life isn’t meant to be easy, but it is meant to be lived to the fullest - so take these thoughts and experiences with a grain of salt and remember to stay positive. We hope that everyone has a safe and prosperous new year!


- Team Durham at Illuminate Universe

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