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Common App Essay Example #10

Prompt #5: Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Forget MTV’s images of spoiled girls picking out multi-thousand dollar dresses. That was not my quinceañera. Yes, many girls I know in my Mexican American community hold ostentatious events that look like they should be on the cover of a magazine. But when I celebrated my 15th birthday, it was a deeply-rooted cultural affair celebrating my transition into adulthood alongside my family and closest friends.  

Preparations for my quinceañera began long before my birthday arrived. I took classes at church to prepare for the special mass and selected my aunt and uncle to serve as my sponsors, marking them as ideal role models to seek guidance from. I also chose my court, which included seven couples of boys and girls that I grew up with. These people and more stood with me during mass on that special day, demonstrating that a quinceañera is truly about building a community of support, not just throwing a wild party.

That doesn’t mean my family, friends, and I didn’t indulge in our fair share of festivities. We celebrated at the church hall for hours, fulfilling some of the oldest traditions of a quinceañera, from the choreographed waltz to the Changing of the Shoes where my father switched my footwear from flats to heels. I also received countless blessings from guests, encouraging me to understand my new social responsibility to myself and my local community.  

Since my quinceañera, I have noticed that my parents and other older family members treat me differently, which in turn causes me to act differently. Rather than ordering me around like a child, I notice a distinct expectation to do the right thing without being asked. I take this change as a compliment that I am respected and trusted enough to fulfill my duties as an equal member of the household. Without my quinceañera, I don’t know that I would feel as transformed as I do, ready to take on whatever challenges face me in the future.