I think I must have smiled for 3 hours straight. This was my first time at graduation on the stage as faculty. Giving the diploma to my student was awesome in and of itself. I think my smile almost broke my face.
If that was not enough, one of our associate deans was there, and he provided some mentoring. He told me I could move around on stage and go greet the students backstage if I knew them. Every time I recognized a name of a student that I knew, I jumped up, and went to give out congratulations and hugs. The other faculty probably thought I was nuts. I didn’t care. I think the students were glad to see me, glad I recognized them (although sometimes I did mis-identify which class they took from me), glad I was there with congratulations and hugs. I loved it. I just loved it.
Eventually I figured out who to talk into taking photos.
The only regret for the day is that I missed taking a photo with a friend graduating with a Ph.D. early in the ceremony. But I got to be there. I got to be a part of it. I got to see it. That made it a great day.