At this time of year it's difficult not to think of my own years as a university student.
I remember well the excitement of learning, the give and take of intellectual debate and the triumphs and setbacks of student life.
But more than anything else I remember the people. In fact, many of the friends I made during my undergraduate years are my very best friends today.
Although these friends are scattered throughout the world, we remain -- after 30 years -- a very tight-knit group. Some of them even travelled to Vancouver just to attend my installation as president last September.
This is why I think it's important to remember that while a university may be a large, and yes, sometimes impersonal institution, it is also a place where very special personal bonds are created.
That's because a university isn't just the bricks and mortar that make up its buildings, or the grounds of its campus, or even the courses listed in its calendar. What the university is really about is its people, the people who study, teach and work here.
What you are taking with you as you leave UBC is more than just an education, it is a network of human relationships with people who have already made a difference in your life, and will continue to do so -- whether it is a classmate who's become a fast friend, a professor you admire or a helpful staff member.
Don't squander this gift. Nurture it. Keep up the connections, preserve the relationships, hold on to the associations -- and they will reward you many times over. You have made strong bonds during your years here. Don't let them slip away.
One way that you can maintain your ties with university and its people is through our Alumni Association. Those of you graduating this spring may be especially interested in a new Vancouver branch called UBC Young Alumni. You can read more about it inside this issue of UBC Reports.
The Alumni Association also has regular branches in every corner of our province, in most major cities across Canada and the United States, and in a dozen countries around the world.
If there isn't a branch in your community, start one! It's up to you.
Congratulations and good luck to all of you.
Martha C. Piper, President