When I was a kid in the late 1960s, I would look up at the moon and try to imagine people up there. It seemed like an impossible dream – the stuff of science fiction. But for a young boy it set the imagination soaring. Would I grow up and become an astronaut? Would I at least get to go up there as a tourist one day?
As it happens, I’ve stayed put on terra firma. But little did I guess that decades later I would be hosting celebrations to recognize the amazing career of someone who was right in the thick of that mind-blowing human accomplishment of landing on the moon. One of this year’s alumni UBC Achievement Awards recipients is William Carpentier, MD’61, who was chief physician to the Apollo 11 astronauts.
I knew of this “World Famous Physician”– as he became known for his TV appearances at the time – long before I’d ever heard of UBC. But then I like to think that UBC was in Dr. Carpentier’s DNA long before NASA! We celebrated him along with five other exceptional members of the UBC community (see page 36) at an uplifting awards ceremony and dinner in November.
Sometimes the world’s problems and challenges may seem overwhelming in scale, but that hasn’t stopped any our recipients from taking action to address some of them. One of the reasons I like working at UBC is because universities are such hopeful places. They are concentrated pools of talent, innovation and goodwill that can – and do – produce the sort of thinking and action that leads to change. Here students are encouraged to recognize that, by virtue of their education, it is their duty to be invested in a broader future than just their own. Our six awards recipients certainly make for some pretty impressive role models.