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Kumon North America’s Annual Student Conference Inspires Kids to Dream Big, Make a Difference

Kumon North America’s 7th Annual Student Conference featured inspiring stories and encouraging words from Kumon students as well as company leaders. The conference, which was held virtually October 13, drew 1,320 Kumon students from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Central America.

Speakers included Isabella Hass of California, 16, a model and advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion; Toni D’Amico, 18, from Querétaro, Mexico, who wants to study philosophy; Morgan Schray, 15, of Chicago, who raised thousands of dollars for the charity Sole Hope to fight parasites in Uganda; and Ishaan Alagawadi, a sixth-grade coding whiz from Calgary who wants to tackle problems like energy sustainability and transportation.

Hass, who travels the world to advocate for people with Down syndrome, said, “I dream of a society in which people with different abilities have equal opportunities and are included in all areas of their community.”

She said Kumon allows her to work at her own pace and become more independent. After high school, she plans to go to college and become an actress. As video of her walking runways and being shown on giant screens in Times Square rolled, she encouraged students at the conference to discover what they are passionate about, dream big, work hard and be kind. “Be the person who makes others feel included,” she said.

Kumon North America CEO Mino Tanabe told the students that Kumon could help them achieve their highest goals, just like the inspiring teens who spoke. “I have every confidence that Kumon will help you move toward your dreams and that you will make a great contribution to the world.”

D’Amico completed Kumon programs in math, reading, and English as a second language. Intrigued by an “amazing” passage he read at Kumon about René Descartes, he began to study philosophy and art. He invented his own language, complete with its own syntax, which has elements of Spanish, Latin, and more. “I really like to know things,” he said. “After a while, the (Kumon) problems were not problems. They were like riddles.”

Schray was inspired to become a Kumon dual program completer–one who finishes the Kumon Program in reading and math–after attending the Kumon student conference in 2019, when she was 11. She told conference-goers that they needed to set goals and keep working toward them. “You can’t be what you can’t see,” she said.

Alagawadi credited Kumon with giving him willpower and teaching him to push through obstacles in coding. “The (programming) language I’m currently using, Python, only tells you which line is wrong. It doesn’t tell you what is wrong,” he said, adding he had to figure that out for himself. “It’s like when you start working out and you get sore, but after a month you realize you are stronger.”