Now the CEO of VoSNL, Eugenia  Duodu began with the organization as a volunteer, seeing the opportunity as a perfect combination of her passions: science and community development. Born and raised in a low-income community, she maintains a strong connection to her roots as a mentor and advocate for youth engagement in STEM opportunities. Her goal is to help youth unlock their potential and to make a positive, long-lasting impact in local communities and across the world.

Duodu is one of the speakers who will be at TEDxToronto on October 26, and we’re honoured she was able to find time to respond to some questions we had about this year’s theme (identity), advice that has served her well, and the message she’s most excited to share at next week’s sold-out event.

SDTC: How has your identity (or notion of identity) shifted in recent years?

EG: It’s only been in the last five years that I have really come to understand how important representation is when it comes to shaping identity. Growing up, I really struggled with envisioning myself in spaces that I couldn’t “see” myself in. I have also come to realize that telling your story and allowing yourself to be seen is supremely important in supporting others on their journey.

All of that being said, I think identity for me is really about living out your life and purpose, forging a path that you might need to create yourself, and sharing parts of your journey along the way. It will matter to someone. 

As someone who is dedicated to helping youth, what is your advice when it comes to helping them understand their identity?

I think part of developing your identity is being exposed to various opportunities and having the freedom to develop while experiencing new things. I also think that it’s important for youth to understand that they bring something unique to the table and they are the only ones that can bring it.

You are a leader in STEM. How was that nurtured when you were a child/teen?

My teachers and community leaders helped to nurture this passion. I had the opportunity to participate in really cool STEM programs, inside and outside of the classroom. These were game-changing experiences for me. Despite some hurdles, those whom I trusted really affirmed my passions and helped me to dream bigger than what I could for myself at the time. 

What’s one message you want to share at TEDxToronto?

One’s desire to stay curious can be deeply dependant on identity. 

What’s a goal, small or big, that you’re currently working on? 

I am trying to read more. My current goal is one new book a month, and I am not doing very well. 

What’s a piece of advice that has really helped you on your journey?

One piece of advice I received that really helped me was to view education as a passport; you can use it to go anywhere you want. I also really benefited from any advice that taught failure as an opportunity. I learned how to broker failure along my journey, and it made all the difference. 

TEDxToronto is now sold out. You can catch the speakers and performances through their live stream. Simply visit on Friday, October 26 at 10:00 a.m. EDT and watch it live! If you’re interested in attending this beloved event next year, be sure to stay up to date on ticket sales and buy early!