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While poets often portray autumn as a time of endings leading to the symbolic wasteland of winter, at McGill the fall semester signifies countless beginnings. These early days are often the headiest, as first-year students and new professors infuse the campus with a palpable sense of expectation.
Of course, at McGill, promise is not good enough. This month alone, McGillians have delivered on that potential by walking in space, discovering a neutron star, winning medals at the Pan American Games, and making advances in developing a vaccine against multiple sclerosis. This is a place in which people don't hope to make a difference in the world, they expect to.
More than just a school, however, McGill will also be the backdrop against which students will develop in more profound ways. Many come here with their path predetermined—aspiring doctors, lawyers, environmentalists and engineers all. Some are living away from home for the first time, a home often halfway across the world. People from different cultures living, laughing, and working together to create an atmosphere of understanding and learning that extends far beyond the classroom.
It is certainly true that most will emerge at the end of their studies with a degree that identifies them around the world as professionals of the highest order. But it's the lessons learned here that cannot be quantified or graded that each person will carry with them for the rest of their life.
For a closer look at what this new place you've come to is about, or to check in on the university's latest plans and goals if you've been here a while, see this issue's special insert, a report to the community from Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum.