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Remembering an icon: ASU School of Transborder Studies celebrates Selena

For the first time, the school will host an event honoring the artist and her contributions to Latinx culture

MAR. 27, Selena Quintanilla, for Itzia .JPG

"Remembering Selena Quintanilla." Illustration published on Wednesday, March 28, 2019.

Bold lips traced in red lipliner, large hoop earrings and strong brows – these are the defining features for groundbreaking Chicana artist Selena Quintanilla

Selena, a prominent force in both pop culture and multicultural identity, has become a role model for Chicanx youth.

Her iconic characteristics are still plastered on T-shirts and widely recognized 24 years after Selena’s death. 

As new musicians and creators continue to enter the industry, popular Selena songs like “Bidi bidi bom bom” continue to be blared on people's radios.

Monica De La Torre, an assistant professor at ASU’s School of Transborder Studies, said the Grammy award winner showed the media that there was a large demographic of Spanish-speakers to appeal to. 

People en Español, a Spanish version of People Magazine, was launched in 1996 after a special issue on the artist’s death sold over one million copies.  

“I think we don’t give her enough credit,” De La Torre said. “It’s interesting that she was U.S. born and speaks to that ‘in-between’ identity that a lot of Chicana folks feel.”

The School of Transborder Studies is acknowledging Selena's importance in lifting up Chicanx culture with a “Celebracion de Selena” event on April 16, Selena’s birthday. 

Christina Molidor, an assistant director at the School of Transborder Studies who created the Selena event, said she hopes the event will provide a broader understanding of what it means to be transborder.

“It’s a way to bring the culture of everyone together across all of ASU,” Molidor said. 

She said she is excited to highlight an individual who symbolizes transborder identity as well as the struggles it may pose.

“Like her father said, ‘You have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans,’” Molidor said.

Selena's multifaceted career set the bar for the artists we see today, De La Torre said, as the artist made waves with starting her own clothing line, which has become common practice today.

“I think Selena was a trail-blazer for her time,” De La Torre said. “She was one of the first artists to cross boundaries in being a singer and fashion designer. She broke creative boundaries for herself.” 

Selena created a new path not only for musicians to follow, but also for a new type of transborder identity that can be seen in multicultural students on ASU’s campuses. 

“For a lot of students, Selena is definitely someone that people see as a role model,” De La Torre said.

Berenice Zubiate, a junior studying arts and a member of El Concilio and the Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority, said Selena's music introduced a rise of reggaeton in today's music. 

"I believe it became more of an inspiration for people today to not shy away from other diverse music backgrounds," Zubiate said. "Some artists (are) incorporating Latin mixes to their music such as Selena Gomez and Khalid.

Zubiate said the artist's music hits close to home for her, as it may for many students across ASU. 

"Selena’s music reminds me about my childhood and how I would blast her music along with my older sister and cousins," she said. "If ASU remembers her legacy on campus, I believe it will bring unity amongst the student minority population in a large celebration of dance and music."

Editor's note: This story was updated at 11:27 p.m. on March 28, 2019 to correct a typo in the first paragraph.

Reach the reporter at or follow @ziacrespo on Twitter. 

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