In Memoriam: Shane Colombo

The San Francisco State University and SF BUILD communities mourn the passing of Shane Colombo, a San Francisco State University alumnus and SF BUILD Scholar who was about to begin a Ph.D. program in psychology at Northwestern University. Shane was killed by a stray gunshot soon after arriving in Chicago on Sept. 2. He is remembered by his friends and colleagues for his promise as a student, his dedication as a scholar, his compassion and his kindness.

“Shane was an inspiration to me and many others and an extremely giving and humble person,” said Ale Castruita, a research data analyst at UCSF who was a member of the first cohort of SF BUILD Scholars with Shane. “He will forever be missed.”

Shane studied psychology at San Francisco State and also worked as a researcher at UCSF. Through SF BUILD, Shane found a commitment to giving back to his community through his work and a mission to ensure that a diversity of voices are heard in scientific research. His dedication was fueled in part by his own experiences as a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with lymphoma at 15. “Shane fought many battles, far harder battles than one can imagine,” said Castruita.

After graduating from SF State with a B.A. in psychology and minors in holistic health and dance in 2016, Shane worked in a neuroscience laboratory at Colombia University before moving to Chicago to pursue his Ph.D. “His big move to start a Ph.D. program in psychology at Northwestern University was the culmination of years of meticulous preparation and determination to overcome adversity and persist,” said Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine at UCSF. In his doctoral studies, Shane planned to work with youth at risk for mental illness.

Shane also had an abiding love of music and dance. “Shane will be remembered as a much-loved member of the dance community at SF State where he brought his graceful physicality, intellect, creativity and kindness into the classroom, the studio and the stage in equal measure,” said Yutian Wong, an associate professor of theatre and dance at SF State.

Through it all Shane was a kind and caring person and selfless with his time. “He would return to San Francisco every chance he got to give back to the program, to mentor fellow students and to give advice,” Dr. Chin-Hong said.

Shane’s promise and dedication, as well as his deep appreciation for music and dance, will live on in the hearts of those who knew him. “Like the poet Khalil Gibran says, I am convinced Shane is truly dancing right now,” said Dr. Chin-Hong.