Cuyamaca College Student Seinna Shaba is one of just three community college students statewide to receive the California Community Colleges Board of Governors Student Leadership Award. Shaba and the two other winners were honored with a $1,250 check and commemorative certificate at a student leadership conference in Long Beach.
Established in 2020, the award celebrates students enrolled in California community colleges who demonstrate a high-level commitment to student leadership.
Shaba, 20, is a biology major who hopes to transfer to UC San Diego this fall and go on to medical school. She has embraced her community college experience, diving into campus activities following the COVID-19 pandemic. She has taken a lead role in welcoming students back to campus, and worked tirelessly to advocate for students and raise awareness of the many resources the college offers to promote student success.
“If I could just make life easier for all of the students, I would,” Shaba said recently. “I’d snap my fingers and make it happen.”
Shaba, who is President of the college’s Associated Student Government, has worked to reinvigorate student government on campus. She has recruited friends and acquaintances, and watched it expand from two representatives in 2022 to 20 today. As the logistical lead for two campus Welcome Week events, she collaborated with faculty, staff, students, and others to stage information sessions, coordinate food and entertainment, and host voter registration drives.
Through her efforts, Shaba has expanded student participation and elevated student voices in college affairs. A strong advocate for students, Shaba has served on numerous college committees for Cuyamaca and the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District (GCCCD).
She has also participated on panels and councils to offer recommendations for how Cuyamaca can improve daily life for students. Shaba has promoted the Cuyamaca Cares Basic Rights Program, which provides students with a wide variety of services and aid, including a food pantry, emergency grants, and application guidance for the state’s CalFresh program, which assists low-income individuals and families with financial aid for groceries. She has also excelled in her academics and achieved a grade point average of 3.83.
“She does so much for other students … all while maintaining a very high GPA,” said Cuyamaca’s Dean of Student Affairs Lauren Vaknin, who nominated Shaba for the award along with Cuyamaca Interim President Jessica Robinson and Cuyamaca Interim Vice President of Student Services Brianna Hays.
A 2020 Valhalla High School graduate and resident of El Cajon, Shaba said she did not expect to become so heavily involved in student life at Cuyamaca. But she realized she wanted more out of her college experience, and has gone on to make her mark.
“I’ve never seen a student who has taken these actions in such a passionate way, and in so many different areas,” said Robinson. “She’s just a remarkable, remarkable young lady.”