The Passion Project: Be Authentic | Doina Oncel

“My name is Doina Oncel. I am a mother, I am a social entrepreneur, and I don’t give any apologies for being my authentic self.”

Doina Oncel is the CEO/Founder of hEr VOLUTION, a non profit organization designed to provide access to women and young girls to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) based education and employment opportunities.

What does confidence mean to you?

To me, confidence is not about whether or not they will like me. Confidence is about whether or not I like them. I wonder if they are going to be the people who I expect them to be. Are they as authentic as I am? Are they as honest as I am? Because that is what’s important to me.

Was there ever a time when you were not authentic?

Yes, when I was younger. Growing up in Romania, I remember my mother used to tell me my role as a woman is to make sure I am good enough for men. When you get messages like that from the people you trust the most, it can make you feel unsure about yourself.

I think my most important message to anyone out there is to be authentic. Be who you are and don’t be afraid to be authentic. Some people might not like you because of it. It is their problem, not yours. You can’t please everyone and that’s okay. You are not here to please everyone. You are here to please you, your passion, and your purpose. That’s why you are here. What other people think? Doesn’t mean that much.

What is one advice you would give to someone who is looking to achieve their potential?

Do not ask for permission. Sometimes it is better to ask for forgiveness than asking for permission because if you ask for permission from people who do not see things in the same way, you will not go anywhere. But if you try anyways and fail, you learn. If you succeed, you will get a pat on the back.

hEr VOLUTION provides assistance, counselling and support to young women seeking employment in STEM-related fields who, because of their backgrounds, might not otherwise have access to such employment opportunities. The non-profit organization provides workshops, seminars, and education camps for for low income and marginalized youth with a focus on girls and young women. Visit for more information on how you can get involved.

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