This fall, students at the University of Texas at San Antonio will be able to dive into the life, influence and legendary career of the indelible singer Selena Quintanilla. Professor Sonya Alemán, who teaches under the Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality Studies, created the course to help Latinx college students further their knowledge of their rich Mexican-American culture and history as well as see the influence that Selena had globally through her music. When asked what was her inspiration for the course, Sonya said, “[It was] a range of both personal investment and scholarly interests influence my desire to design and teach a course grounded in the remarkable career, legacy, and lived experience of Selena Quintanilla.”
The name of the course will be Selena: A Mexican American Identity and Experience, and it’ll cover things like Selena’s career, image, music, the Spanish language and Mexican American identity. Professor Sonya reveals that teaching this course is a dream come true for her as it is a topic that she is very passionate about. “This has been a dream for me for a long time because it engages the things that I already am interested in and have spent time studying, researching, writing and talking about,” she expressed. She also stated that Selena would be a great anchor for creating a course that tackled the topics of race, class and gender identity.
She explained, “Issues about race, class, gender identity, about the radicalized experience of being a Chicana and Mexican American—I just knew that all of that could be untangled and unpacked through the lens of looking at this iconic figure. Selena embodied all of those things in some aspect of her life and career.” Sonya feels that the class would provide a profound experience for young Latinos. “These Brown youth — who make up more than half of Texas’ school-aged population — have been denied access to a curriculum that centers their Mexican-American and Chicana/o/x history and knowledge for decades,” Sonya said. She continued, “For years, I have been envisioning a course that would address that gap and also honor and celebrate the life of Selena Quintanilla.”