Alina was born in Ivanovo, Russia, and her family moved to the United States when she was 3 years old. Alina was brilliantly talented; she loved singing, dancing, and acting. She touched the hearts of many with her passion and beauty on stage.
Alina developed her passion for performing arts at a very early age. Her journey started at the European School of Rhythmic Gymnastics when she was 4 years old. At the age of 5, she was performing solo numbers in out-of-state competitions. In elementary school, she was a student of Tammy Lee’s School of Dance, where she obtained starring roles performing her acrobatic dance numbers. In a short period of time, Alina learned dance styles and skills that would take years for most children to master. Because of her exceptional talent, she was privileged to perform in a group of much older, more experienced dancers.
In 5th grade, Alina joined Karen Prunzik Broadway Dance Studio. She became adept at multiple styles of dance, including hip hop, tap, and ballet. True to her Russian heritage, she even served as prima ballerina for the studio. She competed at On Stage New York and Access Broadway, and won multiple awards for her outstanding performances. Throughout the years, Alina also performed at several local Pittsburgh events, including Light Up Night, Macy’s Christmas parades, and various events in Robinson Township, Kennywood, and Idlewild Park. Additionally, the confidence that she developed through dance allowed Alina to discover her talent as a singer. She brought audiences to tears with her beautiful renditions of many well-known songs, both on stage in front of an audience, and at home with her family.
When Alina was 14 years old, she suffered a severe knee injury during a ballet class and underwent a major surgery. After months of physical therapy, Alina received the heartbreaking news that she would not be able to dance competitively or recreationally again. Despite this major setback, she was committed to returning to the stage, and was determined to find a way. While at Montour High School, Alina was a member of Musical Theater, through which she was able to safely exhibit her passion for dance. Alina returned to the stage as a gifted actress, dancer, vocalist, and comedian, shining her light and love on the audience. She starred in several musicals and plays, bringing tears, smiles, and much applause while on stage. Alina also was part of the Chorus at Montour, and she performed at many events across the city and continued to shine her light and bring joy to all in attendance.
Although Alina’s injury prevented her from pursuing her passion as a dancer and performer, her treatment experience inspired her to pursue a career in the medical field. She wanted to help others who had suffered injuries that prevented them from pursuing their dreams. Alina decided that she wanted to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy.
Alina graduated from Montour High School in 2015 and spent the first two years of her college career at University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg. She lived in the Outdoor Adventure & Community Service (OACS) living community during her time at Pitt-Greensburg. In fact, she was the Vice President of OACS during the spring 2017 semester. She loved participating in an organization that benefited animals and children. Again, Alina continued to shine her light, touching the lives of people and animals with her love and attention.
Alina then transferred to the University of Pittsburgh’s Oakland campus. She lived with her friends in an apartment, and was prepared to dedicate herself to becoming a Doctor of Physical Therapy. However, on October 8, 2017, Alina was senselessly and tragically killed at the young age of 20. One year later, in October 2018, Alina’s murderer was sentenced to life in prison. But Alina’s light was not extinguished. Her legacy of love, kindness, and compassion will continue to shine, and the world will always be brighter because Alina was part of it.
Alina deeply treasured her family, including her father, Yan, her mother, Elly, her brother, Artem, her sister-in-law, Kate, her niece, Angelina, and her dog, Benji. Alina was so excited for the birth of her niece, and she was even present in the delivery room when Angelina was born. In the short amount of time they were able to spend together, Alina and Angelina formed a special bond. Alina also had a special bond with her mother, to whom she referred as her best friend. However, Alina loved and valued her entire family immensely, including her family in Russia. She even visited her family in Russia and became even more proud of her Russian heritage. Although her family misses her desperately, the Sheykhets are proud of the legacy that Alina has left and the light she has brought into this world.
Alina was an exceptional young woman. She radiated love, life, and energy. She had a compassionate spirit that made everyone around her feel special. She had a remarkable smile that brightened every room she entered. She had a contagious laugh that made everyone feel like they were in on the joke. She was not just alive, she was living. This world and the people in it were blessed to have had the opportunity to bask in her vibrancy. Alina was a beautiful person and her spirit is still here on earth guiding and inspiring us.