Professor, Students Host Quinceanera Celebration for Class Member

Dr. Sherry Penn-Crawford and Andrea Santizo
Andrea Santizo's Quinceanera Ring

Lessons of a Northwood University Florida humanities class recently held special significance for junior Andrea Santizo when she was told that her professor and classmates would like to host a Quinceanera (or celebration of a young woman's coming of age) celebration in her honor.

With the first class assignment requiring that students share the story behind an object that holds special meaning or significance, Santizo’s presentation focused on a beautiful ring.

“Grandmother presented me with this gorgeous gift on my 15th birthday and explained that family difficulties would prevent a traditional Quinceanera party for me,” said Sanizo, who is now age 20 and originally from Guatemala. “It will always be one of my most treasured possessions.”

With the story greatly touching fellow classmates and Dr. Sherry Penn-Crawford, Santizo’s professor, the group came together to form a plan. “Quince's are highly important in the Hispanic culture and every girl looks forward to hers as do her friends, so I was delighted that Andrea responded ‘yes’ when I asked her if she would still like to have her celebration,” said Penn-Crawford, of how the inspiration came about.

In recruiting members of the class to play certain roles in the celebration, Penn-Crawford said she had no idea how excited they’d become about the event, which traditionally includes much dancing, tasty food and a time for revelry. “The students began talking about the party to other students outside the class and they, too, became excited and wanted to help out,” said the instructor of the event which quickly expanded to include students and faculty members paying tribute to Andrea and playing various roles in the ceremony, along with live music from a student band known as the Wonggoys.  

“The affair provided an experiential sense for the students of creating ritual and meaning both for Andrea and for themselves. Therefore I’m hopeful that the memory may hold significance in their lives for years to come,” said Penn-Crawford who funded much of the event herself. "One of the most touching moments was when student Angel Garcia, who played Andrea's father, was changing her shoes from flats to heels signifying her transformation from a young girl to a woman. After he knelt down in front of her and very gently and tenderly made the transition, he asked to have her first dance.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” she said. 



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Private, nonprofit, and accredited, Northwood University specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education at three full-service, residential campuses located in southern Florida, mid-Michigan and northern Texas. Adult Degree Programs are available in seven states with many course delivery options including online. The DeVos Graduate School offers accelerated, evening and weekend programming in Michigan, Texas and Florida. The Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity and Enterprise provides system-wide expertise in family enterprise, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and new business development. International education is offered through study abroad and in Program Centers in China (Changchun and Wuxi), Malaysia and Sri Lanka.