Yesterday I attended my first graduation as an academic, in the procession for graduations at Newcastle. As it is my first year here I did not know many of the students very well, only the handful whose dissertations I supervised. Even so it was a surprisingly emotional occasion. It reminded me of my own graduations and how much I've changed since I first started university. My first graduation I was still in the midst of being a shy reclusive northerner in a very traditional and competitive Oxford, and I didn't really enjoy the whole experience of graduation, aside from my parents being there and being proud. It probably didn't help that the whole thing was in Latin, though now I'd probably find that quite fun. And in the Sheldonian Theatre - an absolutely amazing building. It's sad to reflect on how much more I could have gained out of my undergraduate experience, if I'd not felt so isolated. I hope that I can use my own experience to make sure students with a similar background to mine don't go though the same thing. I didn't even go to my Masters graduation as I was feeling all rebellious and what's the point of it all. I was still struggling with shyness at that point (my mam will never forgive me for not have a photo to match the other two). My PhD graduation I was beginning to feel better about life, my confidence has increased a tad, and I actually felt like I'd achieved something worth celebrating. Sitting at the front of the hall in fancy dress and watching the audience was a reminder of how incredibly lucky I am to be where I am today, doing the job I always dreamed of. As a parent myself, I now also have a much better appreciation of why these things are so important to family. It's not something I think I could ever explain to my younger self, who never felt like she quite belonged. Unfortunately I had to leave the drinks reception almost as soon as it started after I nearly fainted. Wool suit plus robes and hat is not a good combination in warm weather!