Before May 18, 2015 I've been to two other graduations where I was the one graduating. I didn't enjoy my high school or my college graduation very much. Not only did I have to attend this self-congratulatory, time consuming ceremony, but my parents were there incessantly taking photos and chatting with fellow parents about our accomplishments. I love my parents, and they had every right to be so excited, but secretly I was pleased when we decided they didn't need to come this year and I could make my own decision about attending or not.
I (hopefully) will be graduating again in two years with an MFA degree, so I was going back and forth with the choice. The only moments I loved during my previous graduations occurred during the final procession. The students walked through an aisle of teachers, hugging and being congratulated by them. When I thought back on that moment I realized even if my parents weren't attending, I still wanted to go.
Anyone who has a degree, especially at the college level, ought to recognize that it is not merely the student's effort that gets him/her through the program. It is a cooperative effort by their colleagues, parents, friends and professors.
Every student owes their success, at least in part, to someone else and the graduation ritual is a formal opportunity to say thank you to all these sources. I'm glad I went this year to show my support for my friends and professors, and I'm glad they were there showing their support for me.