November 24, 2015 | Lynn Rosendale

June DeBoer served as a passionate advocate for Calvin students for more than 14 years.

As a long-time member of Calvin’s Student Academic Services department, June DeBoer clearly had a heart for students.

“June found her calling and her deep joy in helping students overcome barriers or adversity and find the pathway to academic success,” said colleague and friend Jane Hendriksma.

DeBoer died Tuesday, Nov. 24, after a year-long battle with cancer.

DeBoer graduated from Calvin in 1982 and later earned a master’s degree from Michigan State University.

A passionate advocate

DeBoer began her career as a sixth-grade teacher at Kelloggsville Christian School in Grand Rapids, where she spent 18 years. She joined Calvin in 2001 as a coordinator for students with disabilities. In 2010 she was promoted to associate director of academic services, and in that position also served as the director of Access, a program that helps students develop new approaches, methods and strategies for learning by means of placement testing, academic advising, specialized courses and consultation with students' professors.

 "June was a passionate advocate for the students with whom she worked. As a teacher and academic counselor, she worked tirelessly to help students discover and realize their potential, celebrating each success along the way with joy and encouragement,” said Tom Steenwyk, director of academic services.

 DeBoer served on numerous committees at Calvin, including the Commencement Committee, Committee on Admissions, and the Calvin Assessment and Response Evaluation (CARE) team, tirelessly working to benefit students and the Calvin community.

 A positive influence

 “June always saw the positive in people, and made sure to tell people the strengths she recognized in them,” said another friend and colleague Thea Brophy. “I remember my first semester teaching at Calvin, June had to observe my class. I was not totally confident about how the semester was going and was nervous to have someone in the classroom. We met after class and she was so affirming and kind. She pointed out ways that I was connecting with students that I wasn’t able to see.”

 She had the same effect on students.

 “Students would come to her office, often nervous, anxious or unhappy with their academics. She talked with them and connected with them on a personal level. She never focused on things students couldn’t do; she focused on what positive things could be taken from the situation. She helped students believe in themselves, and she did that by showing that she believed in them,” said Brophy.

 Her colleagues will miss her passion and energy.

 “She was a passionate advocate for students, faculty and staff members with disabilities. She was a fierce warrior for campus accessibility, both physically and academically,” said Brophy. “She fought to open doors—both literally and figuratively—for people on campus.”

Added Hendriksma: “June had boundless energy for people. She radiated with love for her family, friends and church family. June was one in a million and will be deeply missed.”

 DeBoer is survived by her husband, Nick, and children Jonathan and Jenna.

 Friends and family may greet the DeBoers on Friday, Nov. 27, from 2–4 p.m. and 7–9 pm at Zaagman Memorial Chapel, 2800 Burton St. A service will be held at First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids on Saturday, Nov. 28 at 2 p.m.

The June Antuma DeBoer Scholarship has been set up to honor her legacy. To contribute to the scholarship visit (Go to “Make a Gift,” and then in the Designations section, choose the Named Scholarship option and write in “June Antuma DeBoer Scholarship.”) Or you may send a check to the Calvin Development Office: 3201 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. (Be sure to write June Antuma DeBoer Scholarship  in the memo section of your check.)

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