Remembering Shane Colombo

by Patrick Monahan


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.

In Memoriam: Shane Colombo


I met Shane as part of the 1st ever BUILD student cohort, while I worked on the project. I had heard that Shane was in PUP the summer before, and even though he had gone through some of the UCSF pieces of the work, he took it all in stride and was always so positive and helpful. I hosted an end of summer one last get together for the students and just he and Daniel came but it was really awesome getting to know them more personally. I always enjoyed seeing him, at the dance performance at SFSU, and even when he came back the year after graduation and introduced me to his partner, while he was at Columbia. It was a true shock to hear of the sad news especially since he just started at Northwestern. When I think of my time at BUILD, I'll always now think of Shane and how he is a true reason for programs like this and why to invest in younger generations and not just a great scientist in the making, but good human. You were a true gem and truly missed.

For as long as I can remember, Shane has brought me joy, happiness and a deep sense of calm. He shared these qualities with many. Proud doesn't really begin to describe the magnitude of my feelings in regards to the many obstacles he has overcome, nor his astonishing achievements. Many times throughout the years, he became my role model. Inspiring me to return to school at 50 years of age. The fact that he overcame cancer with grace, dignity and much humor, becoming a source of inspiration to others, at 15 years old., is amazing. The thing about Shane was that he was always quite modest... Gorgeous inside and out he was not pretentious, just loving and giving. This is my son Shane. I miss you more than I could possibly describe. I love you. ❤mom

Oh Shane, you were so smart and sweet and special and you will always be so missed. Love, the Moore’s

Shane is , In my head and heart still alive!
Brilliant human been , kind , always smiling, very loving , all this memories that I have , I always going to remember, and cherish with the ones I love , forever ! Forever with us , as long as we live , part of us went with him ,the momentous we had with him were awesome! This world lost a very important citizen , too many plans that he left undone, we have an other angel looking over, that is been taking away from us.

Shane was my rock. Having been diagnosed with a couple of mental disorders, he always knew how to take care of me in my dark times. Many nights have been spent crying since September and many days have been filled with beautiful memories. I see him every time I look at something beautiful, like the snow-covered mountains on my way to College. Shane always wanted to know how I was doing in school - even more so since I just started Graduate school and he was starting his Ph.D. Shane always gave the best hugs and I luckily had the privilege to get one last hug in a week before he was taken from us. I feel him everywhere. I have a beautiful picture of him in my car and I talk to him frequently to get me through the day. The world has definitely become a less bright place without him. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it all. All I know is I lost my rock. I will love you forever Shane <3

My heart grieves for his family . He sounds like he was an amazing person in every way , I wish we would have met . I share his passion for the arts . I hope he’s up their dancing too. What a beautiful soul. Much love to Tonya and the family .

Everytime I see Shane he always had this beautiful smile that I admire. Caring person. He was a part of everyone lives .I hope he in a better place now.

Shane was one of our neighbors growing up and he was the kindest, most caring and loving young man. He often would stop over just to talk with my husband and I, reflecting on his life, his cancer battle and his love for his family, especially his mom, Tonya. He was polite and honest to a fault. We knew he would be successful in life and although my husband passed before Shane did, I feel blessed to have known him.

Shane was a wonderful colleague at the SCAN Lab, we miss his energy, generosity, and warmth.

When Shane was younger, I would say maybe 10 or 11, him and his brother Dane would come to my house to hang out with my brother and a couple of other kids from the neighborhood. As with most pre-teen boys, there was a lot of, well I will just call it mischief hahaha! They were all very good kids, but Shane always stood out because he was very caring, kind, and respectful. I remember thinking that he was going to do great things, and he did.

I still can’t fathom your loss. I think about you every single day. I love you so much.

This makes me so sad! We met at SACNAS several years ago and I found his business card today from when he was a SFBuild Scholar.
I decided to try to connect with him on LinkedIn and decided to look up the SFBuild and saw this. Condolences to all who were close to him.