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Student Spotlights

Remembering Nafizia "Sonia" Rugbeer

Image of Sonia

Spotlight on Sonia

"Sonia said we were both angels to each other because we came into each other’s lives at the right moment."

Sonia was a dedicated student who overcame great obstacles.
I came to LVSC because I felt helpless after losing my husband and I was struggling with my reading. I am so happy that I found someone who was able to help me. I used to ignore things, but now I tell myself I can read and I don't have as much anxiety. Learning to read is one of the greatest achievements in my life right now.
-Sonia R.
When Sonia passed away unexpectedly last December, Sonia's LVSC tutor shared this tribute:

I began working with Sonia in May 2021. Because of distance and Covid, we opted to “FaceTime” once a week and never actually met in person until recently. Reading over Sonia’s profile I learned that she struggled with literacy skills due to an undiagnosed learning disorder. She had previously worked with another volunteer tutor of whom she was very fond, so I knew I had big shoes to fill.

From the very beginning, it was apparent that Sonia was extremely bright and inquisitive. While she may have been challenged with decoding words, she was a master at comprehension. When we discussed the meaning of words and phrases, Sonia was not only able to define them, but she could give examples and analogies to support her understanding. Because she was such a hard worker, she was able to learn quickly. She was always willing to go the extra mile when learning a new skill. I always used to tell her that she was my best student because she never complained about the lessons presented to her (unlike the teenagers I used to work with in my previous job as a high school teacher!).

Sonia was a very passionate and expressive person. She loved to share stories, opinions, and humorous anecdotes about friends and family. Although she was shy at first, when she read aloud, her voice had a lilting, ethereal, and soothing tone. I used to tell her she had the voice of an angel!

In early December 2021, we finally met in person at a local restaurant. We didn’t skip a beat. We talked, laughed, cajoled with each other, and shared our ups and downs. Because it was the winter holiday season, I gave her an angel ornament as a small token of affection. She later showed me a picture of where she hung it in her home. She said we were both angels to each other because we came into each other’s lives at the right moment.

Sadly, I never did see Sonia again. I will always remember her as a vibrant woman, who had a thirst for knowledge, for stories, for self-improvement, and for connections with people. I will miss her deeply.


{Avatar artwork created by Sonia Rugbeer, March 2021}