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Lauren Howe, Miss Universe Canada

La Petite Écolière is so proud to feature Lauren Howe. Lauren is an industrial engineer, entrepreneur, and holds the title of Miss Universe Canada. She is passionate about inspiring more girls to pursue STEM education and careers. Click the photos to shop Lauren's style.

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INTRODUCE YOURSELF! TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR FORMAL AND INFORMAL EDUCATION.

Hi! I’m Lauren Howe. I completed my Bachelor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto for my undergrad degree after transferring from a Biomedical Degree at McGill University. As for my informal education, I took acting classes - won them as a part of Miss Teen Canada. Fell in love with it and began doing more while studying. It was a nice balance to go do something in the arts while studying engineering. Eventually I got my job working with the Toronto Maple Leafs and dropped acting for the hosting/sports broadcasting world. Now, I am thinking about getting back into acting. My experience working as an arena host for the Toronto Maple Leafs was another major form of informal education. I learned so much about media and public speaking. I also took piano lessons for many years! One of my favourite quotes is “You can never be overdressed or overeducated”.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON OR SKILL YOU LEARNED INSIDE THE CLASSROOM?

Programming. I didn’t realize my program involved a lot of computer programming before I started at U of T. The moment I learned how much coding was involved, I was so terrified that I was tempted to drop out or switch programs. I ended up sticking with it, learning a new language every semester. I got over the fear! This is now one of the skills I am most proud of - at the end of the day it is just another language. My undergrad experience also taught me a lot about problem solving.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON OR SKILL YOU LEARNED OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM?

Take risks. And don’t regret taking them. That was my motto when I quit my job to run for Miss Universe Canada. I told myself that if I didn’t win, I would move on and accept it without regret. Thankfully, it panned out. But I truly don’t think I would’ve won think if I hadn’t taken that risk, and fully invested in it.

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WHO WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE TEACHER?

I had really amazing high school teachers across the board at Appleby College. I’m fortunate that my science teachers were incredible. Dr. Clifford Sampson and Mr. Wu were two individuals (among too many to list here!) who had an incredible passion that shone through in the classroom. It is so important in highschool to have teachers that lead by example and ignite that passion of science for kids. There’s such a small window of opportunity to get students interested in science.

From a mentorship perspective, I’d like to shout out Taylor Dean. She’s the manager of Toronto Maple Leafs and was my floor director and partner in crime. I learned so much by shadowing her and watching her interactions with people. She has an ability to balance a number of roles in stressful situations and handle them calmly while making every person feel important to the success of the operation. That’s an interpersonal skill you don’t see very often in the workplace.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH CANADA LEARNING CODE. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU TO GIVE BACK TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION?

I discovered Canada Learning Code (formerly Ladies Learning Code) through a friend in Toronto and I’m a huge supporter. I love their mission and how much they’ve grown. My personal experience with coding resonates what Melissa’s mission. I used to be terrified of code. I didn't have an interest in coding until I realized how powerful it is. I love the feeling you get when you have written a piece of code to create something new. At my last job, I automated a number of processes through writing code. I have never had a more accomplished feeling in my life.

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO TELL YOU “YOU DON’T LOOK LIKE AN ENGINEER”?

I ask them, “what does an engineer look like”? People come to their own realization that there’s no definite image of an engineer. There will always be people who make stereotypes and assumptions. But thankfully, I’ve noticed a shift in attitude. More people know that your appearance and your intelligence aren’t mutually exclusive.

I recently met a 17 year old who is studying quantum computing. She told me how much my story inspired her as an example to show people that you can be interested things like fashion and also science, technology and math.

A little anecdote on this topic, when I was working at the Leafs, a group of male engineers that came up to me. They pointed to my ring, and asked “Did you buy that ring to wear for fun, or are you really an engineer?” I told them of course I purchased it. It cost me 4 years of tuition.

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WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE AN EDUCATION AND CAREER IN STEM?

Again, I’m so thankful for my science teachers in high school. When I won Miss Teen Ontario for scholarship reasons, people started stereotyping me much more frequently. I wanted to prove to people that I’m smart and combat that stereotype. I knew that engineering would allow me to go into any field. I also knew that I eventually wanted to go into business, and I wanted to be able to understand the technical side and speak that language.

WHAT IS ONE LESSON YOU YOU’VE LEARNED THAT YOU’D LIKE YOUNG GIRLS GROWING UP TODAY TO KNOW?

I recently found the quote “Find three hobbies you love: One to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to be creative”. It is so important to diversify your interests. I got where I am today because I have a wide range of interests.

If you have an idea, or want to start a business, I encourage you to be fearless and to run with it. Don’t overthink it. With technology and the internet, the world and vast amounts of information are at our fingertips.

I also believe in surrounding yourself with people who uplift and inspire you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you think is inspiring for mentorship. Mentorship is one of the most important things to personal development. As a previous athlete, my coaches would always encourage me to practice with the players that were much better than me. It was intimidating and difficult, but I improved my skills much faster. The same applies to mentorship!

WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW (OR FAVOURITE BOOK)?

Ha! Right now, I have three or four books on the go! I just started reading The Art of Living by Bob Proctor. My friend’s dad, who I highly respect, recommended it to me. I also love and highly recommend Richard Branson’s biography, Like a Virgin (despite the title feeling a little funny to read in public).

WHAT DID YOU LEARN TODAY?

Something I’ve realized lately is that you don’t have to do everything yourself. As women, we tend to try to be superwoman. It’s okay to ask for help and if you’re a manager, to delegate work to others.

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ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?

We’re not taught enough how many niche and unique jobs there are in the future when it comes to STEM related fields. All we hear is, “you can be a scientist, a doctor, an engineer..”. But there are so many other cool STEM jobs and opportunities out there. I encourage young girls to use the internet and really explore the different career paths STEM can take them down.

Another small piece of advice is to get involved in research early on. There’s something exciting about looking at the forefront of technology and getting involved really early on.

Connect with Lauren on Instagram, Twitter and Youtube.


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