Hospitality Student Leadership Council

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Career Development Program in the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management coordinates the Hospitality Student Leadership Council (HSLC). This select group of students provides guidance for the vision and mission of the office and assist in selecting, organizing, and executing the activities that the program offers to hospitality students. Council members provide feedback, recommendations, and advice relating to programs that will interest the student body.

The goals of the HSLC are:

  • To increase student engagement with the career development program and creating Career Path Plans
  • To represent the student body at key industry-related meetings
  • To assist and provide input and insight on the creation of programs that will be beneficial to the student body and their professional development
  • To get students engaged with hospitality industry partners and their recruitment activities on and off campus
  • Provide feedback to the career development staff and serve as ambassadors and representatives for the office

Students participating in the council will have the opportunity to:

  • Enhance and/or develop leadership and teamwork skills
  • Volunteer, receive additional training, and work with a mentor
  • Establish effective working relationships with industry professionals in support of future career and professional development
  • Have exclusive access to employee events
  • Receive invitations to a student luncheon to network with industry partners
  • Be an integral part of the career development program’s functions such as assisting with seminars, promoting student engagement, organizing career events. Council members will be supported and encouraged to take projects that align with their career interests.

SHELBIE REILLY | Senior| Hotel Management |

Shelbie is a current junior pursuing both her bachelors and masters in Hospitality Management. Her ultimate career goal is to manage a 5-Diamond Hotel and has already started to gain that experience through her current position at Hyatt Hotels Corporation as a Lead Front Office Agent. Shelbie has an interest in sustainability and hopes to implement “Green” technology in the hotel industry; “This mission will incorporate two of my most passionate aspects in life, authentic hospitality and assisting with protecting our plant’s resources. I love to meet new people, share bold ideas, and create deep meaningful connections.”

ALEXANDER WRIGHT | Senior| Food and Beverage Mangement|

A South Florida native and current senior, Alexander has a desire to infuse both of his passions; food and restaurant management. Starting as a server assistant and working up to the supervisor position, Alexander has over five years of experience in the industry specifically in the Food & Beverage sector. Originally, a biology major, Alexander found that he could transfer his love for creativity and science into the hospitality industry through many different avenues.

ZOE GALANIS | Senior| Food and Beverage Management |

Zoë Alexandria Galanis was born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas and is a current senior. Zoë studied at The Armand Hammer United World College of the American West (UWC-USA), one of the now sixteen United World Colleges across the globe.  Zoë’s experience at UWC – USA afforded her the opportunity to study with students from more than 72 countries and earned her the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Following UWC – USA, in 2014 Zoë enrolled at FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management and works as a Recruitment Coordinator with the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

VIVEK SOMANI | Junior| Food and Beverage, Marketing |

A current junior at The Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, Vivek aspires to delve into the ever-changing world of hospitality marketing and advertising. Currently, Vivek is a brand ambassador for All Aboard Florida’s new passenger train system “brightline.  His previous experience includes working as a marketing intern at Bobby Flay’s Bold Food restaurant group, event coordinator at the South Beach Food & Wine festival and front desk at iPic luxury theaters. He has also represented FIU at the Hospitality Innovation Summit in Amsterdam.

KIMBERLY RIVERA | Junior| Restaurant Management |

Born and raised in South Florida, Kimberly Rivera is a current junior pursuing her undergraduate degree in Hospitality Management, concentrating in both Hotel and Restaurant Management. Highly involved on campus, Kimberly is an active Eboard Officer for Collegiate DECA while working as a server for Chili’s Restaurant. Kimberly has previously served as the state president for the Florida Association of Collegiate DECA during the 2015-16 term, placing first place in both the Travel and Tourism Management and Marketing Management sectors of the DECA state.

ZHE HUANG | Junior| Hotel Management |

Zhe is a current junior who transferred to FIU from China. Focusing on hotel management, Zhe is highly involved with Collegiate DECA, Asian Student Hospitality Association and serves as the Hospitality Management Ambassador for FIU’s Student Government Association. Zhe works closely with our international students and hopes that through her peer mentoring efforts, she will be able to bridge the gap between international students, adapting to a new culture.

HOLLYN SIMPSON | Sophomore| Event Management |

A Florida native, Hollyn was born in Jacksonville and raised in Saint Augustine. She moved to Miami to pursue a degree in Hospitality management at FIU. She is currently a sophomore focusing in event management, specifically corporate events. She has completed an internship at Chris Weinberg Events and is now an intern at Ines Naftali Floral and Events Design, and plans to continue gaining experience in the Hospitality field as much as possible.

DUNIA ORTIZ | Sophomore| Event Management |

Born and raised in Miami, FL, Dunia is currently a sophomore at the Chaplin School. Dunia discovered her love for Hospitality in high school and loves delivering exceptional service to enhance guest experience. Dunia Currently works in the Career Services Office promoting job opportunities and providing resume help for all students in the Chaplin School.

YULITZA SOSA | Sophomore| Event Management |

Yulitza is a current sophomore studying Hospitality Management while overseeing the Peer Mentor initiative and working for Career Services at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Yulitza has a passion for event management, specifically social events such as weddings.

Elizabath Amaya

Elizabeth Amaya (Undergraduate)

Born in New York and raised in Miami, Elizabeth originally enrolled at FIU as a biology major in the pre-med track. She changed her major to hospitality management once she realized how much she enjoyed creating great experiences for people, as a result of working at Aventura Hospital and The Cheesecake Factory. Elizabeth is also a classically trained musician.

Jefferson Brackin

Jefferson Brackin (Graduate)

Born and educated in Miami, Jefferson Brackin has been involved with the hospitality industry since he landed his first job interacting with patients at South Miami Hospital. After attending the College of Charleston in South Carolina and experiencing southern hospitality at its finest, he decided that hospitality management was a perfect fit for him. Becoming a student at the Chaplin School has opened up a new world of opportunities thanks to the explosive growth of the hospitality and tourism industries in South Florida, home to many global brands and local entrepreneurs. While an intern at the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Jefferson proposed innovative concepts to the company which are currently under evaluation for potential implementation. Jefferson is now part of the team responsible for the renovation of the new Shelborne Wyndham Grand, where he will be exposed to all aspects of hotel management through a rotational system. Jefferson credits his mentors, Dr. Jinlin Zhao and Mr. Abraham Galbut, for his well-rounded education and professional development.

Luis Cadavid

Luis Cadavid (Undergraduate)

Born and raised in Miami, Luis is currently a senior at the Chaplin School. Over the years, he assumed various leadership roles in the Student Programming Council at FIU. He is a school ambassador for incoming freshmen, and helps promote workshops and events to increase internship opportunities for all students. Luis has a deep passion for the hotel industry with a focus on leadership development.

Sisi Gospodinov

Sisi Gospodinov (Undergraduate)

Originally from Bulgaria, Siyan lived in Philadelphia and moved to Miami to attend to FIU. Given her passion to create unforgettable experiences for people, Siyan is pursuing a Hospitality Management degree with a major in Event Planning and a minor in Public Relations. Working briefly at the triple five star Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Downtown Miami, she has broadened her understanding of the hospitality and tourism industry. During the summer of 2014, Siyan helped to plan and organize multiple student engagement events with FIU Campus Life.

Aracelis Jimenez

Aracelis Jimenez (Undergraduate)

Born and raised in Miami, Aracelis takes great pride in her desire to provide excellent customer service. While pursuing a Hospitality Management degree, she has held various volunteer positions in the industry, including a paid internship with the Walt Disney World Company, and current employment as a web specialist at Florida Power & Light. Her dream is to manage and own a luxury hotel.

Stephanie Van Romondt

Stephanie Van Romondt (Undergraduate)

Born and raised in Curaçao, Stephanie became a student at FIU in the fall of 2012. She knew immediately that her passion was hospitality management and she quickly became involved in student activities. Stephanie joined the National Society for Minorities in Hospitality and the American Marketing Association (AMA). Additionally, she became a founding member of the South Florida collegiate chapter of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI). Currently, she is chapter president of both HSMAI and AMA. Stephanie was the only freshman to join a team of seven juniors and seniors for an eight-week summer internship in the gaming capital of the world, Macao. She is expected to graduate in May 2015.

Frank Rosado

Frank Rosado (Undergraduate)

A non-traditional student, Frank came to FIU after a long and prosperous career in the aerospace/aeronautical industry. A former general manager of a large casino ship and its land-based property, Frank has rich management experience, including tutoring and coaching. He takes great pride in volunteering his time to the City Recreation Advisory Board and Air Force Youth Soccer Association.

Celia Suman

Celia Suman (Undergraduate)

A junior at the Chaplin School, Celia always loved the hospitality industry. Through her family’s business, she was exposed to event planning, the cruising industry, the hotel industry, and entertainment from an early age. Currently an intern at Carnival Cruise Lines in the sales department, she plans for a corporate career with a large cruise company.

Lexi Zhang

Ruoshui “Lexi” Zhang (Undergraduate)

Born and raised in China, Ruoshui fell in love with the hospitality industry while in high school. Currently a senior at the Chaplin School, she assumes a leadership role in promoting career opportunities available not only to international students, but to all students at the Chaplin School.

Amy Bair

Amy Bair (Undergraduate)

Amy Bair is a student at Florida International University working on a second Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. She also holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Information Management from Arizona State University. Her intention after graduation is to work internationally with hotels in the field of Revenue Management. Currently, she is the Chief Operations Officer for the start-up energy efficiency broker Tec360, LLC. She is also working with FIU and the Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival as a Student Coordinator. Amy is married with 3 grown children. Her oldest son Branden is an Airman in the Air Force. Her daughter Mariah is a junior at University of Arizona and her youngest son Matthew is a Navy Seaman. He will be deploying to South Korea in four months.


Brian Collot

Brian Collot (Undergraduate)

Born and raised in Miami, Bryan has a culture that is deeply indulged in the variety of hospitality. As a current Junior of FIU, Bryan is involved with providing information that promotes the culmination of ideas of FIU hospitality to incoming freshmen as well as those just seeking to understand the opportunities that branch from the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Seeking to have a deeper understanding of the industry Bryan makes time to go to informational sessions that also provide a foundation for his presentations. He has been heavily involved in public speaking through high school with SAT and ACT information and he looks to continue his passion for spreading knowledge through his College career here at FIU. Bryan welcomes everybody to the school and wishes students a wonderful academic year.

Lindsey Echevarria

Lindsey Echevarria (Undergraduate)

Lindsey Echevarria is originally from Tampa, Florida. She transferred to FIU this semester as a junior, and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. She previously attended St. Petersburg College, where she completed her Associates of Arts Degree. She chose Hospitality simply because it is the people business and she loves people. She is extremely excited to enter the field and see what unique opportunities this diverse industry will lead her to. Once she gains more experience in the world of hospitality, she would like to pursue her master’s degree right here at FIU as well. Aside from that, she loves to travel and her list of destinations continues to grow. She’s also a bit of a picture fanatic; the scenery shots tend to be her favorite. She looks forward to getting to know and interact with even more of her peers here at FIU, so that you can all work together to make a lasting impression for the future Golden Panthers.

Kara Manouzi

Kara Manouzi (Graduate)

Born in Nassau Bahamas, Kara had the privilege of growing up in an environment where hospitality was second nature. In 1981 Kara entered the Bahamas Hotel Training College and graduated in 1983 with a diploma in Hotel, Tourism and Restaurant Management. She worked at various positions within the hospitality industry; including as a duty manager with Sheraton Grand Hotel, Paradise Island Bahamas. Kara went to work with The Bahamas Tourist Office in Chicago in 1988 and while there graduated from Kendall College with a degree in Hospitality Management and Marketing. She is currently Regional Group Sales Manager for The Bahamas Tourist Office in Fort Lauderdale and a Graduate Student in the Hospitality Management program at Florida International University. She is a Certified Meeting Manager (CMM) and a member of Meeting Professionals International, Society of Incentive Travel Executives and National Coalition of Black Professional Meeting Planners.

Yolanda Suarez

Yolanda Suarez (Undergraduate)

Yolanda Suarez is currently a sophomore double majoring/tracking in Restaurant Management and Beverage Management Service. She is extremely excited to fully immerse herself in all things Hospitality, and joined the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality and traveled to their Regional Conference in North Carolina with them her first semester here at FIU. This year she is proud to be the Vice President of National Society of Minorities in Hospitality. In the Spring 2014 she will be taking part in the Disney College Program Full Service Food and Beverage. She is thrilled to be on the Hospitality Student Leadership Council and cannot wait to enrich the journey of Hospitality students here at FIU. My long term career goal is to be a Food and Beverage Director or Director of Food Services for either a cruise ship or large property.

Mengsha Yu

Mengsha Yu (Graduate)

Mengsha is a graduate student in FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality& Tourism, who is from Shanghai, China. In 2012, Mengsha did a college program in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. After that, she went back to China and did several hotel related internships, with the focus on public relations and communications. To pursue her career in Hospitality Industry, she would like to qualify herself better through solid working experience in the U.S.