Queen for a Day
Maria Lopez-Garcia, 15, right, of Lanham, gets dressed in the bathroom of the Langley Park Community Center with her sister, Yesenia Lopez, 11, and mother, Leticia Garcia who wants her three U.S.-born children to have the careers she and her husband didn???t have, to get out of poverty and live a comfortable life. Lopez-Garcia is a legal resident, but her father has has had immigration problems and was almost deported several years ago. Lopez-Garcia celebrated her fifteenth birthday with a group of other Latinas from from low-income immigrant families taking part in a self improvement program. It ended with a big quinceanera celebration marking the traditional end of childhood for these Hispanic girls. For Maria and the 12 other teens, however, the experience was more than a lavish party, the festivities were the culmination of 12 weeks of training and bonding that some of the teens said changed their lives.