Growing up I would always dream about a special day, my Quinceañera.

I would dream about wearing an extremely precious white dress with a purple and silver design. I dreamed of having all of my closest family and friends spend time with me and be present at my ceremony where I would thank God about the first 15 years of life and the many more to come.

I would dream about having that amazing party where I would have the time to spend with friends and family and to share with them my transformation from a child to a young adult.

My parents wanted to give me a Quinceañera because in my culture it means I am no longer a child; I’m becoming a young adult. In Mexico, this means that once a teenager turns 15, you are able to leave your house, look for a job, live on your own, and get married and have kids.

But here in the United States, it has a whole different meaning. In the United States, it means I’m starting to change and I’m becoming an adult. I can start driving, get a job, and pay my own expenses while I live with my parents.

A Quinceañera is a ceremony to honor and acknowledge the traditions of the Hispanic culture and Catholic Church. This day represents the most important transition every young woman experiences as she matures in the eyes of society and in her own life.

I chose to have my Quinceañera at St. Patrick’s church since this was the church I was baptized in. The ceremony for this special day was to remind me about my religious responsibilities and beliefs and their role in my becoming a women.

The ceremony began with an entrance into the church with my parents. This moment meant that my parents were giving me their trust and permission to become an adult. It included prayers and a worship service where a Bible, cross and rosary were given to me representing my religious faith. Religious songs were sung and I prayed to God thanking him for the first chapter of my life.

The priest made a short statement to remind me of the religious symbolism and the importance the ceremony had for me and my family and to say that now I would be viewed as a young woman in the eyes of God.

At the reception, my entrance represented to the guests that I was starting to change and I would be making my own choices.

I danced a traditional waltz with my chamberlains and, to a special daughter and father song, I danced with my father.

My dad then put me in the middle of the reception room and put a sparkling crown on my head, placed high-heeled shoes on my feet, and a ring on my finger that symbolized the infinite circle of God’s love.

I was then presented a doll that symbolized that I’m no longer a little girl playing with dolls. This would be my last doll to carry in my hands.

Finally, I was given 15 roses representing a rose for each year of my childhood.

Having a Quinceañera was an important moment where I was to acknowledge the changes in my life. It signified the change from child to adult and represented that I was ready to move on to a new stage of my life.

This special day gave me a chance to thank God. From then on, I would be making the right choices allowing me to follow a bright path into a successful future.

It made me realize in my Hispanic culture a Quinceañera is a very important event to my parents because they know it’s time to let their daughter step into a new stage of her life.

Maria Fuentes is president of the Walla Walla High School Latino Club. She participates in the AVID program, is a Link Crew leader and volunteers for the Garrison Night School pre-literacy program. As a senior, she plans to attend either Washington State University, University of Idaho or Eastern Oregon University in the fall.