MIAMI -- Barry University women's golfer Paloma Vega's eyes lit up.
"I felt important," the freshman from Madrid, Spain said. "Of course. I'm 18 years old, and I'm here working for the prince and princess."
Vega was chosen to work a dinner event for Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia, the Royal court of Asturia, Monday at Freedom Tower in Bayside Marketplace. The event was to commemorate Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon's 500-year anniversary of discovering Florida and to kick off the Miami Book Fair.
It was April 1513 when de Leon reached an area south of Melbourne, Fla. He aptly named the land, "La Florida." The Spanish royalty were in town to celebrate the anniversary of the Spanish discovery at an event for roughly 500 guests by invitation and those who purchased $500 plates.
"It was a good experience because there were so many important people, the consulate, the embassy people," said Vega, who played in one fall tournament. "Just to get to see how they act in this important event, it was impressive. Getting to see them in person, it was nice. She (Princess Letizia) looked at me. I said, 'Hi.' The prince was really attractive.
"I wouldn't want to be (part of) royalty. I want to live my life, and have fun and play golf with who I want to. Of course, I want to play with important people so I can meet them."
Vega was chosen to work the anniversary celebration through associates of RPZ, an association that helped organize the event.
"We're certainly happy for Paloma that she was able to work this great event to celebrate the Spanish-Florida historical anniversary," Barry University women's golf coach Shannon Sykora said. "It was a neat experience for her that I'm sure she'll remember for the rest of her life."