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Students in UTSA’s first course on Selena describe their experience

Students in UTSA’s first course on Selena describe their experience
OCTOBER 1, 2020 — The Selena: A Mexican American Identity & Experience course offered in the Mexican American Studies program is well underway. This inaugural class, with almost 30 participating students, is the brainchild of Sonya M. Alemán, an associate professor in the Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality Studies. This course examines the life and career of Selena Quintanilla and maps out the historical trajectory of the Mexican American identity and experience in Texas.

The class not only is centered on Selena but also offers the opportunity for other Latina trailblazers to chime in with exclusive guest lectures. Recently students heard from Coca Cola executive Elisa Gonzalez-Rubio who worked alongside Selena. 

We spoke to some of the students to learn why courses like these matter. 


“This class has not only made me prouder to be a Latina but has taught me to embrace who I am and where I grew up.”


Our Selena course student panel

Our panel of Roadrunners in the course on Selena: Vanessa Arellano is a senior majoring in Mexican American studies, Jennyfer Arriaza is a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies, Christina Farias is completing requisites in nutrition to enroll in a master’s program in dietetics, Josefina Fernandez is a senior majoring in political science major, and Christina Soliz is a junior majoring in Mexican American studies.




Why does it matter that universities offer courses such as the Selena class? 

“Being in the San Antonio area, this class meant so much to many of us. It was like knowing the university itself cares about our ideas and our interests outside of school.”

—VANESSA ARELLANO

“Courses such as Selena are very important especially during this time in history, focusing on people of color and the impact they make/made in time. It tells their side of the story. Allowing people of color to have something to gain a better understanding of what they identify with and really for everyone to see the whole picture of the stories we are taught throughout school.”

—CHRISTINA SOLIZ

“It’s important for universities to offer courses like this one because it provides an insight to race theory, critical thinking and an alternate perspective that one may have of Selena. She was seen as just a singer, but her legacy and her history of stepping into the Mexican culture is something that a lot of people in the Latinx community can relate to.”

—JOSEFINA FERNANDEZ 



How has the Selena class so far changed the perception you have of yourself?
 

“Selena hasn’t really changed much of my perception of myself. If anything, it’s made me really appreciate the love my culture has had for her thus far. It really has uplifted my confidence seeing a woman that looks like me.”

—JOSEFINA FERNANDEZ 

“This class has not only made me prouder to be a Latina but has taught me to embrace who I am and where I grew up. The way Selena took the Tejano scene by storm, made it her own, and how she continues to impact the Tejano community to this day inspires me to follow my dreams without any fears of worrying what people may think of me.”

—CHRISTINA FARIAS 

“It makes me really think on a larger scale, Why do I follow certain artists and celebrities? On what scale am I grading them on?”

—JENNYFER ARRIAZA 

 



How is this class challenging you?
 

“This class challenges me to peel back the layers of my Latina identity and to not only understand but question why I am who I am.”

—CHRISTINA FARIAS 

“In general, if I’m learning something and it makes me question everything from my quotidian life, it means I’m learning.”

—JENNYFER ARRIAZA 

 



If Selena were alive today, what do you think she would say about today’s Latinx generation among Millennials and Generation Z?
 

“I feel she would love all the gen changes that are going on and being made.”

—VANESSA ARELLANO 

“I think she would be very proud of a good chunk of us taking a stand for our lives and not conforming to societal norms. As I am learning more in depth of little but huge things she would do in her performances, I know now she’s all about switching things up!”

—JENNYFER ARRIAZA 

“I think Selena would be beyond proud of the bravery and courage these younger generations possess in advocating and demanding change for our Latinx communities.”

—CHRISTINA FARIAS 

 



Along with Selena, who else right now would be another Latinx artist or newsmaker that would create impact for future generations?
 

“Eva Longoria Baston and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Both have in their own way inspired the Latinx community through activism and politics. However, I tend to identify more with Eva because of the fact that she’s also from South Texas and because of her dedication to the work she has put in over the years to call on Latinos/as to use our voices, educate ourselves and really harness our voting power. What I appreciate about the way she utilizes her platform is that there is no pretense. Her approach is relatable, pragmatic and authentic, which can be equally as powerful and inspiring as others who use similar platforms.

—CHRISTINA FARIAS

Milady Nazir



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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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