Editor’s Note: Happy Birthday to You

Have you ever noticed how UBC grads seem to be everywhere? From the Prime Minister, to my federal MP, to my dentist, to the volunteer treasurer on my strata board, to the colleague who’s sitting next to me as I’m writing this – there’s just no getting away from them. And (with the exception of said colleague’s offensive Christmas sweater collection, which gets aired from November) that’s a good thing, because where would we be without such well‑educated health professionals, lawmakers, volunteers, and colleagues (obsessed with Christmas or otherwise)? Admittedly, there’s a high concentration of UBC alumni living here in the Vancouver area, but they can also be found across Canada and in about 140 other countries.

Among them are Nobel laureates, prime ministers, Olympic medallists, authors, actors, and entrepreneurs. But beyond the better-known names, there are countless UBC grads you’ve probably never heard of who are quietly making their mark on the world. The small but diverse selection of alumni profiles we share in this issue demonstrates the impressive breadth of experience and accomplishment to be found among the membership of alumni UBC.

In fact, if there were an official theme for this issue, it would be “multi‑talented.” You can read about a violin-playing, unicyling geoscientist (that’s not to say he does everything at the same time – he’s multi-talented, not reckless); a genocide scholar with a passion for photography; and a surgeon who aspires to be an astronaut one day. If he makes it, he’ll be following in the footsteps of Bjarni Tryggvason, BSc’72, who was the sixth Canadian – and first UBC alumnus – in space (not counting Roberta Bondar, the second Canadian in space, who was awarded an honorary degree by UBC last year). It’s enough to make an editor feel like an under-achiever.

Although we can’t all be Nobel laureates, prime ministers, prime athletes, billionaire inventors, or astronauts – we can all vote with a conscience, reduce our individual footprint on the planet, and do our bit to help propel great human achievement (like the teachers, the parents, the benefactors of research, the coaches and the advocates who are typically behind the great achievements so often associated with just one name).

Much good can come from many small actions driven by common intent. Maybe that’s what was on the minds of the small group of far-sighted grads who, on May 4, 1917, held a meeting and established alumni UBC. There were fewer than 100 active members on the rolls, back then. Today there are more than 325,000 UBC alumni living around the globe, and that’s a force to be reckoned with.

So happy birthday, and May the 4th be with you… I mean, Tuum est.


Vanessa Clarke


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