De La Torre, whose research and classes focus on how Mexican Americans are portrayed in popular culture, said having the event in an academic setting serves to recognize Chicana/o cultural contributions at a time that feels more important than ever.

“I never would have imagined being at a Selena event on campus when I was an undergrad, so it’s actually a radical idea,” she said. “Particularly at a time when Latinos and Mexicans are being vilified, I think having these public events to celebrate our cultural contributions serve to counter that idea.”

For Tara Sperry, a freshman who attended the event, Selena’s music played a pivotal role in her interest in both the Spanish language and Latino culture.

“As someone who grew up in a family that doesn’t speak Spanish, she was really my first introduction to the language,” said Sperry, now a double major in Spanish literature at The College’s School of International Letters and Cultures and secondary education at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “I came here to help celebrate that.”

Tara Sperry, a freshman at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, picks up a School of Transborder Studies lanyard at the Selena event.

Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences