Latinx Student Association plans Honorary Quinceañera

Author: Katherine Lieberth

Dancers pose in front of the Golden Dome. From left to right: Clare Hill, Sarah Van Hollebeke, Sophie Miller, Irasema Trujillo, Sylvia Garcia, Abbey Brown, Grace Sorenson.
Dancers pose in front of the Golden Dome. From left to right: Clare Hill, Sarah Van Hollebeke, Sophie Miller, Irasema Trujillo, Sylvia Garcia, Abbey Brown, Grace Sorenson.

On Saturday, March 2, Notre Dame’s Latinx Student Alliance (LSA) will hold an honorary quinceañera on campus to celebrate culture and community.

Iliana Gamboa, a senior studying psychology and Latino Studies with a minor in Italian, had the idea of holding a quinceañera on campus last spring.

“At the end of the year, I was like, ‘I feel like we could actually do that. I feel like we have really good Latino leaders on campus and Latino student leaders and really amazing people that can get it done,’” she said.

Although this event has been coming together for about a year, the planning process didn’t truly start until about a month ago. Traditional quinceañeras are planned two years in advance.

“What’s been really, really cool about this event is just how much support we’ve gotten both on campus and beyond,” Irasema Trujillo, co-president of LSA, said. “We’ve gotten co-sponsorships from more than 20 clubs, and not just clubs, but institutions.”

When asked about her ‘why’ for planning this event, Trujillo said she wanted to unite the Latino communities across the tri-campus, creating an event where students feel like they belong and give back to other Latinos beyond Notre Dame.

Half of the proceeds from the event will go towards funding a quinceañera for a teenager in South Bend. In addition to ticket sales, LSA is raising money through daily posts on their Instagram that highlight quinceañera traditions across Latin American cultures. They provide their PayPal to collect donations at the end of each post’s caption.

“This is really a celebration but also a good way to give away something from the Notre Dame community to the community that has been hosting us for our four years,”co-president Rebeca Santa Maria said.

Sylvia Garcia, a senior accounting and economics major living in McGlinn Hall, was chosen as this year’s quinceañera honoree after signing up and getting the most engagement out of all of the applicants on an Instagram post on LSA’s account.

Garcia’s preparation for the event has included dance practice and dress shopping.

“We ended up finding a dress there that worked out perfectly well and that’s the one I’m going to be wearing. So we got that for free which was very nice,” she said.

Ash Noriega Galvan is a junior resident of Howard studying psychology, gender studies and studio art. They are the main chambelan, which is the dama’s main dance partner.

“For me to be the first chambelan as a non-binary person, that’s pretty cool. That’s a step in the right direction,” they said. “Seeing the amount of support that I got in the comments and the amount of people that liked the post was also pretty cool.”

Galvan said quinceañeras can be stressful and require a lot of preparations, but they have enjoyed practicing.

“Getting to learn from other people who are really experienced in dancing has been really rewarding,” they said.

Communities across Latin America and the United States have different quinceañera celebrations. The planning committee has focused on making sure everyone feels included in this celebration. They will keep traditional rituals such as changing of the shoes, handing off of the last doll and the father-daughter dance.

“We are going to … stick to demonstrating these traditions and demonstrating the joy and the gratitude and the community that comes along with the Quinceañera,” Gamboa said.

The quinceañera will begin with a prayer service at the Grotto at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Following the service, programming will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. at Downes Ballroom. More than 40 performers will take the stage, including dancers from Ballet Folklorico.

Tickets are on sale at the LaFortune StaND for $10 until 3 p.m. on Friday, March 1 or at the dance for $15 at the door if they are still available.

“We hope that this inspires other not just Latinx students … but also broader students across all communities to feel like they can also do things like this and have big dreams and do it with a community of students that really believes in them,” Trujillo said.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to the organization as the Latino Student Alliance instead of the Latinx Student Alliance. Rebeca Santa Maria is co-president of the organization, not the alumni coordinator. The Observer regrets these errors.

Originally published by Katherine Lieberth at on March 1, 2024.