Sparking Science Interview: Student Volunteers

Date: November 9, 2018 Author: EcoSpark Categories: Latest
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Sparking Science Interview: Student Perspectives

Student participants had a lot to say about the 2018 Sparking Science through Mentorship Conference! This EcoSpark blog is by two students who wanted to share their experiences. Sparking Science is an annual event that showcases women working in STEM who mentor grade 9 girls from Durham Region. This year’s event was held on October 10, 2018 at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus and engaged 122 girls. For more information, click here.   

Introducing: Aaliyah Jaleel and Chelseyah Emanuel

Aaliyah Jaleel is a grade 10 student who helped with 2018 Sparking Science as a volunteer, student presenter, and grant writer. Like Aaliyah, Chelseyah Emanuel participated in 2017 Sparking Science as a grade 9 student and eagerly returned this year as a volunteer. Both students are active members of Dunbarton High School’s Environmental Council.

How did you find last year’s Sparking Science conference?

Sparking Science students 2018

“My experience at 2017 Sparking Science was definitely one to remember. Walking in as a student in grade 9, I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. For a grade 9 girl who was taken out of a small school, and thrown into a big new environment where I was struggling to find myself, I was shocked to be embraced by the group of women and inspired the way I was. These women showed me this whole new world where women could be what they wanted to be. They are out in the world making a change and proving wrong every stereotype you could think of about women.” –C.E.

What were some highlights of 2018 Sparking Science?

“Each mentor brought to their table their own passion and style. It was interesting to see how different women portrayed their love for their field, and this only excited the students further. The affinities of these speakers propelled the idea that women are limitlessly capable, and that sexism cannot stop the strength and power women obtain.” –A.J.

“The keynote speaker cannot be forgotten. Dr. Christina Guzzo grabbed everyone’s attention with her personal, moving presentation. Her story captured the audience and advised you to be adventurous and spontaneous—traits that can lead you down a successful route. Her story was one of determination and resilience, and the onlookers took her advice to heart. With a brilliant closing speaker, Dr. Rene Harrison, the event had a strong wrap up as well that offered a sense of completion.” –A.J.

What was it like coming back as a volunteer?

“Volunteering was a joy, as the students were friendly, while the university students were helpful and understanding. Fortunately, volunteers had an equal opportunity to learn and engage. The event flowed nicely and had incomparable organization.” –A.J.

“Coming back as a volunteer was even more empowering to me. I got the chance to share my experiences with girls who were exactly like me when I was their age. I got the opportunity to bring them to these special and important women [mentors] and tell them just how much this experience will impact them.” –C.E.

What did this year’s grade 9 girls think of the conference?

“Later on that day I found that the experience had been meaningful for new participants: the girls in my group were going on about the jobs they now wanted that before they had thought of as too hard to reach. It was amazing seeing the change in those girls and seeing them grow so much in only one day. That's the magic of Sparking Science. It opens up girls to this new world of opportunities and puts a sudden spark in them that will leave them forever filled with endless possibilities.” –C.E.

“Through the carefully organized activities, intriguing presentations by various female influencers, and the enthusiastic vibes that filled every corner of the room, each individual walked out with a smile on their face and radiance in their heart. Regardless of a student’s passion for science, the exposure to the diversity of the science field both boggled and thoroughly impressed the young women, and the inspiration was reflected in their eyes.” –A.J.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with future grade 9 girls about Sparking Science?

“The Sparking Science Through Mentorship Conference is truly an unforgettable experience. As if meeting wonderful new mentors wasn’t enough, students were able to interact with a variety of students and create lifelong friendships. Early in the first year of high school, this opportunity for young women to form positive relationships with one another is beneficial for both long and short term. Whether or not the girls bond over their love of science, the joy of learning together, laughing together and leaving together certainly leaves a lasting impact.” –A.J.

“Sparking Science was the most empowering and uplifting experience I’ve ever had.” –C.E.


Sparking Science through Mentorship is a collaboration between EcoSparkDunbarton High SchoolUniversity of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) and Durham District School Board. The conference is supported by the Office of the Vice-Principal Research and the Office of the Vice-Principal Academic & Dean at UTSC, Veridian, the SHSM program and Ontario Power Generation.