Shine On for Shelby initiative to honor murdered GVSU Alumna

GVL / Courtesy -
Shelby Fazio

GVL / Courtesy – Shelby Fazio

Ashlyn Korienek

A Grand Valley State University alumna who was tragically killed by her roommate will be honored for her volunteerism and passion to sustain the world.

Terry Fazio and his wife Cindy Fazio, with the help of Shelby’s closest friends, started a volunteer initiative called Shine On for Shelby to continue the legacy their daughter carried on throughout her short life.

On Oct. 24, Shine On for Shelby encourages others to get involved in the community doing service to honor her memory. The annual day of service is on the Saturday closest to the date of her death.

Shelby Fazio, 23, was involved in volunteer work in her years at Lapeer West High School, where she joined the Key Club and served as vice president. Shelby continued her service as the president of Circle K when she started at GVSU.

Terry Fazio said after they lost their daughter the focus was on the tragedy. He said Shelby believed through simple acts of kindness the world could be a better place, which is how she deserves to be remembered.

“Shelby always had a positive outlook and was always eager to help others,” Fazio said. “We want to continue Shelby’s giving ways and separate her name from what happened to her.

“This is a healing process for her family and friends to divert the focus and energy from the bad to the good Shelby always did for others – her legacy.”

After finishing the study abroad program in South Africa, Shelby moved to Orlando to participate in the Disney College Program, which is a five-month internship for college students and recent graduates. Fazio said she completed the program quickly obtaining her dream with a full-time position as a cruise boat Captain and trainer.

However, on Oct. 26, 2014, Shelby was stabbed to death by her roommate Bryan Santana in their West Orange County, Florida apartment. Her American bulldog Azaia was also killed. Santana was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to two life sentences.

“As easy as it would be to just give up and fall into a spiral of despair, Cindy had a vision of continuing Shelby’s legacy,” Fazio said. “Shine On for Shelby will be each year on the weekend closest to the day that Shelby was taken from us.”

Joseph Jacquot, associate professor of biology, was Shelby’s mentor and professor for her environmental biology capstone and mammalogy. Jacquot said Shelby had a bright future of becoming a conservation biologist, graduating with honors in biology.

“I have nothing but positive things to say about her,” he said. “ I’ll be honest, I realized after she was gone that I didn’t know her as well as I wish I had.

“It’s kind of amazing how much she gave to the world at large in her short time.”

Fazio said a scholarship in memory of their daughter was started at GVSU. The Shelby Fazio ’13 Memorial Endowed Scholarship will assist primarily biology and natural resources management majors at GVSU, which the public can donate to on GVSU’s website.

“In her short time she touched thousands of lives, but millions more will never experience her benevolence,” Fazio said. “We have established this campaign to see that those who did not have the privilege of meeting her get to know the illumination and joy she brought to everyone around her.”

To share an act of kindness in memory of Shelby or to support the cause visit,