Engineering Student Group Empowers Students, Builds Leadership Skills

members of famu-fsu engineering selb fall 2022

(Left to right): Back row: Norman Downey, Diana Shaughnessy, Leyhma Leban, Emily Espinoza, Asael (Asa) Caballero Reyes, Blake Heath, Makoto (Mak) Gazzara, Lauren Bishop, and Darrian Gardner. Front row: Valentina Fajardo, Kalea Gant, and Kartika (Tika) Ahern. Not Pictured: Analise Bracci. (M Wallheiser/FAMU-FSU Engineering)

“SELB is a group of people who want to build community. We all have dreams and goals of what we want for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.” That’s how civil engineering student Emily Espinoza explains the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Student Engineering Leadership Board, or SELB, for short.

SELB serves as liaison for students at the college. It is a place to bridge communication between students and faculty administration and thrives as a voice for the college community. Five new members were admitted to the program for Fall 2022. This addition brings the full number of SELB members to 13.

Maribel Amwake is the Director of Student Engagement at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and the adviser for the program. 

“Regardless of university, major, race, gender, or beliefs SELB is a group of students that are passionate about improving the college,” Amwake said. “It’s about inspiring and impacting future engineers.” 

Espinoza dreams of building homes made of sustainable materials and is passionate about making the world more environmentally friendly. She is using her voice in SELB to provide a more welcoming environment.

SELB members help fellow students by introducing them to activities available at the college. Each member participates in a committee in an area of concern. Students engage in outreach, mentorship, undergraduate research opportunities, and student involvement and wellbeing. 

Leyhma Leban, a biomedical engineering student at the college and a member of SELB, said she struggled when she first got to the college and wanted to help incoming students who might need help. 

“I didn’t have an easy time adjusting to life and education at the College of Engineering when I first got here,” Leban said. “I don’t think there are many organizations for people who struggle and want to make a difference. But SELB took me in and gave me that chance and I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve.”

“SELB is unique because its members have no titles, like president or vice president or treasurer,” Amwake said. “I have restructured the format to make everyone seen as equal. Once you give someone a title, they assume that role. Presidents are always in charge and the others don’t feel they have a say. In structuring SELB this way there is a better dynamic and discussion among all members. This has cultivated strong friendships among the members.”

SELB takes on several projects during the year, such as the “Take a Paws” event last spring. Therapy animals and arts and crafts were on-site to comfort students during finals week. More than 120 students participated in the event.

The group gave out cookies on Valentine’s Day to spread encouragement during the spring semester. “Conquering Your Semester with SELB,” was about good study habits. The group also had an outreach event with Gilchrist Elementary School’s STEM Carnival that touched more than 850 people.

SELB will hold another “Take a Paws” event this Fall, during the last week of classes and finals week.

“I feel like a proud mother goose of the SELB members, not just for what they have accomplished in a year, but the growth they have demonstrated as individuals and professionals,” Amwake said. “There’s no doubt that with time SELB will leave a positive impact on the campus and graduate some wonderful engineering leaders.”

SELB Representatives from FAMU and FSU in 2022-2023

Analise Bracci (FSU), Asael (Asa) Caballero Reyes (FSU),Blake Heath (FAMU),Darrian Gardner (FAMU), Diana Shaughnessy (FSU), Emily Espinoza (FSU), Kalea Gant (FAMU), Kartika (Tika) Ahern (FSU), Lauren Bishop (FSU), Leyhma Leban (FAMU), Makoto (Mak) Gazzara (FSU), Norman Downey (FAMU), Valentina Fajardo (FSU)

FALL Upcoming Events

  • Take a Paws Event during the last week of classes and finals week 
  • Wellness workshops sponsored by FAMU’s Counseling Center held every Tuesday at the College of Engineering, room A115 from 3:30 – 5pm

Get involved  

If you want to get involved with SELB, the organization has an application process that opens up as spots become available. Students interested can get in touch with any member; email SELB directly at:; or reach out to Maribel Amwake, the Director of Student Engagement:

Meet the 2022-23 SELB Members


Analise Bracci

she/her/hers, Chemical Engineering, FSU, Hometown: Crawfordville, Florida

“I want the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering to be a place student want to be and not just a place they have to go, SELB has made me feel like I belong here.”


Asael Caballero Reyes

he/him/his, Mechanical Engineering, FSU, Hometown: Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

“SELB is unique in the fact there is no elected leader, and everyone has an equal say and a chance to lead meeting and host social events. I loved to design and build robots when I was young and a teacher showed interest in my science project and helped set a trajectory for my future path.”


Blake Heath

she/her/hers, Biomedical Engineering, FAMU, Hometown: Philadelphia

“SELB is the first group I have been a part of that I truly feel is making a difference in student’s lives. There are some amazing qualities about this college and I want to be part of the change to ensure that all students are represented, whether they attend FAMU or FSU.”


Darrian Gardner

she/her/hers, Biomedical Engineering, FAMU, Hometown: Georgetown, South Carolina

“SELB makes me feel seen and heard at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. I felt like the engineering school lacked its own identity or culture apart from the two colleges. Students are needed to make a difference and I want to have a voice on behalf of the engineering student’s at the college.”


Diana Shaughnessy

she/her/hers, Mechanical Engineering, FSU, Hometown: Aledo, Texas

“SELB is unique because there isn’t a president or a leader, everyone is on the same playing field which I believe has fostered a strong bond evident amongst its members. After looking into the program and exploring its values and mission, I knew it aligned with who I am and I knew I wanted to get involved.”


Emily Espinoza

she/her/hers, Civil Engineering, FSU, Hometown: Miami

“SELB is a group of people who want to build community. We all have dreams and goals of what we want for this college. We are working hard and taking one step at a time in the right direction together.”


Kalea Gant

she/her/hers, Industrial Engineering, FAMU, Hometown: Washington, D.C.

“Engineering has helped me become a better problem solver and not be limited to a specific career path. One of the special things about SELB is having the opportunity to gain leadership experience. Everyone is equal and all of our voices are heard.”


Lauren Bishop

she/her/hers, Chemical Engineering, FSU, Hometown: Boca Raton, Florida

“SELB represents students and can be a bridge between college faculty and students. My passion revolves around community service, increasing STEM involvement, and youth mentorship.”


Leyhma Leban

she/her/hers, Biomedical engineering, FAMU, Hometown: Broward County, FL.

“I want to help new and incoming engineers. There aren’t always opportunities for people who struggle or don’t do well getting into clubs or organizations that make a difference. SELB feels like a group of friends who want to help others.”


Makoto Gazzara

he/him/his, Environmental Engineering, FSU, Hometown: Jacksonville

“In SELB, I want to impart what I know to those who are just starting out and be a source of guidance. An engineering goal I have is to make the cleaning of water more efficient and push towards a global dependence on a cleaner source of energy.”


Norman Downey

he/him/his, Electrical Engineering, FAMU, Hometown: Boca Raton, Florida

“I joined SELB to make an impact on campus. We can make meaningful decisions and create programs that can positively impact the student body.”


Kartika Ahern

she/her/hers, Mechanical Engineering, FSU, Hometown: Tampa

“SELB helps my voice and voices similar to mine to be heard when decisions are made here at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. I think the people with SELB make the school a little happier and better every day.”


Valentina Fajardo

she/her/hers, Industrial Engineering, FSU, Hometown: Miami

“I joined SELB because I want individuals to be more involved and knowledgeable about their careers. SELB facilitates networking which is extremely important. The organization has challenged me to place myself in others shoes, comprehend their life and thoughts through their perspective. I am grateful of the impact we have at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.”