Dr. Sophia Elaine Anne Van Leer thumbnail

Dr. Sophia Elaine Anne Van Leer

December 10, 1982 - March 21, 2019

“The sky’s not the limit; it only begins there…”
Whether or not Sophie coined this phrase, it sure details a colorful, visionary, and fearless life.

Sophia Elaine Anne Van Leer was born on December 10, 1982, in Evanston, IL at St. Francis Hospital to Vanessa Boyd and Terry Van Leer, Sr. She was the third ch…read more

“The sky’s not the limit; it only begins there…”
Whether or not Sophie coined this phrase, it sure details a colorful, visionary, and fearless life.

Sophia Elaine Anne Van Leer was born on December 10, 1982, in Evanston, IL at St. Francis Hospital to Vanessa Boyd and Terry Van Leer, Sr. She was the third child out of six, being, as she would always say, the “Only Oldest Daughter” they had. Sophia’s family lived in Chicago, IL until August 4, 1988, when they moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where the formative years of her journey began.

Sophia, with her siblings, started her educational path at Forest Home Elementary; from there she moved onto Sara A. Scott Middle School, finally graduating from Project Stay Senior Institute in 2002 as Valedictorian. Early in life Sophia excelled academically and became well known as an avid reader who enjoyed science fiction literature. She was a part of several academic programs and an academic award recipient with programs such as YMCA Sponsor-A-Scholar, the Global Leadership Program where she traveled to Prague, Czech Republic, and the 2002 Presidential Award. It was also at an early age that Sophia decided to give her life to Christ and was baptized.
Sophia knew she was destined for greatness and that she passionately wanted to help people overcome their personal struggles. She felt in her heart this desire was God-mandated. She was greatly inspired by a phrase on a college poster that said, “Shoot for the stars.” It was a poster from Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, Alaska; the college that would soon become a part of the next phase in her journey when she decided to attend in the fall of 2003 for her undergraduate degree. She knew that she wanted to study Psychology when she went to college. Her desire was to help people who experienced the same struggles she did but had no voice to express their pain.

During her time at APU, Sophia persevered through personal challenges and excelled academically and socially. She maintained an above 3.5 GPA; graduating as Magna Cum Laude and had the honor of addressing the graduating class of 2005 at the graduation and awards ceremony. Sophia also founded and was the president of the first multicultural student group at APU called “C.O.L.O.R.S”; was Vice-President of Student Government, was a teacher’s and resident assistant, was a member of numerous student organizations and became great friends with people that transcended location. Inspired and energized by her undergraduate achievements and her faith in God, Sophia set out to accomplish her next goals; her master and doctorate in Psychology.
Sophia placed her trust in God and chose Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania for her masters and doctorate degree. It was in Chester that Sophia worked tirelessly to achieve her academic goals and to find a church home. Her academic success and her spiritual pursuit became equally important to her. During her time at Widener, Sophia continued to push herself and was involved in the Diversity Committee, Energy Management Program, and Psychology Noir. Sophia was passionate about community health and many of her internships during school reflected that passion. While in school Sophia worked in Family Mental Health, Child Mental Health, and Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Penn Hospital, and at the campus Counseling Center. With a 3.7 GPA, Sophia graduated with her Master’s in Psychology with a concentration in Cross-Cultural Psychology in 2008 and finally with her Doctorate in Psychology, Psy.D, in 2013; co-authoring and, eventually publishing, her dissertation, “South Asians and Suicide: Beliefs about Suicide in a US Community Sample” (published in Asian American Journal of Psychology Dec 2018).
While living and attending graduate school, Sophia found a church home at New Life International Ministries in Chester, PA. It was at New Life that Sophia adopted a spiritual family, and the members became her family away from home to her. Sophia was a member of New Life for 11 years, freely giving her time and resources because she believed that God led her to New Life and that vision given by her pastor, Apostle Joyce Scott. During her time at New Life, Sophia served on multiple ministries, such as the prayer team, team excellence, and more.

What drove Sophia was her vision. She believed that God chose her to do great things. The Bible says “Without a vision, the people perish”. Vision is what sustained Sophia and kept her looking beyond any hindrances. She had no limits, and her life proved it well with the time God gave her.

Dr. Sophia Elaine Ann Van Leer entered into glory with God on March 21, 2019 after a battle with cancer and the life of her family was forever changed.

She is preceded in death by her maternal grandparents, Dolores E. McCormick and Eugene Boyd, Sr.  She precedes her only living grandmother, Annie R. Mathews; mother, Vanessa Boyd, her father, Terry VanLeer Sr.; her siblings, Terry Jr., John, Catherine, Erika, and Lionel; her 7 nieces and 1 nephew, Sarai, Mercedes, Mia, Noah, Brooklyn, Emery, Evelynn, and Imani; her sister-in-law Jonisia; her brother-in-law Mitchell; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.

Sophia was a beautiful woman; inside and out.  She was intelligent, passionate, giving, inspirational, a trail blazer, bold, unapologetic, and fierce… simply put, she was fabulous!  She loved God and her family unconditionally and brought such joy and laughter to our life with her goofy personality.  She was a great daughter, loyal sister, the best of friends, an aunt to emulate.  It has been an honor to know her.  We will greatly miss her beautiful soul but know that her faith carried her into the arms of her beloved for eternity.

Although we didn’t want to see her go, we say, “until we see you again, Sophia.  We will love you forever.”

“To my only love.  May you remain with me forever and when it is time, I shall see you face to face, may my heart always give itself to you” – Sophia; Journal Entry March 21, 2000.

Visitation will be held at Krause Funeral home, 7001 West Brown Deer Road, Milwaukee, WI from 11:00 AM – 12:45 PM. Memorial Service to follow at 1:00 PM.

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Service Information

Visitation Information

Krause Funeral Home Brown Deer

Address:

7001 West Brown Deer Road
Milwaukee, WI 53223

Date: Saturday, April 13, 2019

Time: 11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Service Information

Krause Funeral Home Brown Deer

Address:

7001 West Brown Deer Road
Milwaukee, WI 53223

Date: Saturday, April 13, 2019

Time: 1:00 PM

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