Selena Paint Night at Chabot

Selena Quintanilla was the subject for this year’s paint night at Chabot College in honor of Women’s History Month. The event took place on Mar. 23 in hopes of raising donations for Ruby’s Place, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and violent crimes.

One of the world’s most influential and iconic female artists, Selena Quintanilla, still holds a large influence on women today even 27 years after her death. Though she began her career in Tejano music, earning the 1994 Grammy for Best Mexican American Album, her fifth and final album Dreaming of You, incorporated both English and Spanish songs. 

Dreaming of You was released in July 1995, four months after Selena’s passing, and at the time was the second highest selling album in a week by a female artist, and the first album from a Latin artist to reach number one on the Billboard 200s. 

The host of paint night, Monica Olmedo, Hispanic Serving Institute and El Centro Coordinator, understood her connection to the late singer wasn’t exclusive, “How do make sense of a brown girl living in a white world?” Olmedo stated she has always felt seen by Selena, a third-generation Mexican American girl chasing after her dreams. 

Student members of El Centro, Puente, and Lunas were in attendance to assist participants in checking in and providing supplies. The painting of the Selena silhouette was led by Graphics Technician Sara Flores, with Philomena Franco, Fiscal Coordinator, Special Programs and Grants, as co-MC for the session. The night was filled with light stories, encouragement to fellow painters, and Selena fun facts. 

Did you know Selena’s favorite food was pizza? Some fans may remember the infamous pizza scene in the 1997 film Selena. Selena (portrayed by Jennifer Lopez) and her husband Chris (portrayed by Jon Seda) bond over pizza as Chris dumps hot sauce all over the food. Chris quickly spits it out after it starts burning his tongue, with them erupting in laughter.

Also in attendance was Patricia Molina, Dean of Special Programs and Services, and founder of Luna. In 2017 Molina noticed a wide variety of clubs offered at Chabot, Striving Black Brothers, My Sister’s Keeper, and more. With a growing population of female students, Molina was inspired to create a club for Latinas to be able to network and support one another. 

The Lunitas, as they call themselves, are more than just a group, “A sisterhood, una hermandad, united to support one another!” Luna welcomes all who identify with hermandad so they can work together toward achieving their academic goals. Some services provided by Luna include specialized counseling, mentoring, financial aid support, and more. 

Philomena Franco (far left) Patricia Molina (right of Franco) standing with the Lunitas holding up their portrait pantings of Selena.

Lending help to other sisters in need outside of the Chabot community was the other focus of the night. Ruby’s Place is based in Castro Valley, with its main focus being to support and rehabilitate survivors of domestic abuse, human trafficking, and violent crimes. 

“Domestic violence is, unfortunately, a common issue in our society, and giving information about Ruby’s place allows students to either get services themselves or refer someone they know.” Chabot student Angela Tafur commented on the benefits of having this nonprofit highlighted on campus. “Awareness of places like Ruby’s Place helps students not only contribute to a good cause but also learn about resources the Hayward community offers.” 

With the success of the first paint night in Spring 2022, and the even larger turnout this year, Olmedo and the entire El Centro faculty and friends are ecstatic to have brought together the group to celebrate and honor Women’s History Month.

Image courtesy of Lupe Hernandez

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