San Diego State University Offers Course on Tejano Icon Selena Quintanilla

Selena Quintanilla would've turned 48 on April 16, 2019

Late Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla undoubtedly made a mark in pop culture. Now, students at San Diego State University will have a chance to learn about her legacy and influence through a new college course.

SDSU assistant professor Dr. Nathian Shae Rodriguez announced via Facebook Tuesday that a class would be offered at the university focused on Selena. Tuesday would've been the singer's 48th birthday.

“I think that having a class about her is an accomplishment,” Rodriguez said. “When there’s a class about you, it tells you that she’s important, and it also says the people she represents are important.”

According to his Facebook post, the class “explores and deconstructs the socio-cultural mediated representations of intersectional Latinx identities by analyzing the music, career, and influence of Selena.”

The professor also highlighted that the course not only is about the late singer herself but about representation and identity.

“It’s important for us to see people who are like us that encourage us, that tell us that no matter who we are, we can achieve whatever goals we have,” Rodriguez said, referring to the importance the course is for Latino students.

Adriana Heldiz, a former student of Rodriguez who now works for NBC 7's media partner, Voice of San Diego, said in a tweet that she is very excited for the professor to be teaching a class on Selena.

“This is why #MoreLatinosinNews matters,” she said in her tweet.

Rodriguez added the class is significant for college-age students because they didn’t get to experience, first-hand, the peak of Selena's stardom.

She was shot and killed on March 31, 1995, by her fan club president, Yolanda Saldivar, a time when most SDSU students had not yet been born.

“They never got to go to her concerts, and this is something that means a lot to them because it’s their family who talked about her,” Rodriguez said. “It’s about a legacy that lives on.”

Rodriguez said Selena influenced his own identity.

“I learned Spanish from Selena’s songs, I learned how to dance cumbia to Selena’s songs,” he said. “Spanish wasn’t my first language, Spanish wasn’t her first language…I related to her because I was living this kind of binational, bicultural life. Selena represented this identity of trying to live the American dream and being successful at it.”

Students can begin to register for the class -- also known as "JMS 496" -- this November. The course will be taught in the spring of 2020.

“It’s about representation, it’s about inclusion, it’s about having a voice,” Rodriguez added. “This course says Selena’s important and we’re important.”

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