Murfreesboro offically becomes ‘home’ for newly-naturalized student
Freshman Tammy Li was the 182nd immigrant to become an American citizen at Monday’s naturalization ceremony in the Murphy Center.
The moment she became a U.S. citizen, Li thought, “I am proud to be a U.S. citizen. I like Tennessee. I think here is my home.”
As a teenager, Li was fortunate enough to earn a spot at Dr. Sun Yat Sen Middle School 131 in New York City in 2007. The boarding school offers educational opportunities that would not have been available to her in her native China.
But moving there alone, with her family back in China, Li felt lonely. To her, the big city was too busy and the South seemed to be better suited to her personality.
“I wanted to try something new so I came to Tennessee. Over here, people are nicer and the weather is much better,” she said. “I have a lot of friends over here. I’m an outgoing person.”
Li’s life was changed in 2011 when she began attending Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Within a month, she was baptized and singing in the church choir.
“Singing in the choir helped me learn English,” Li said.
Shortly after, one of her Sunday school teachers, Christie Young, offered Tammy a home.
“The other people in my church youth group and choir make me feel loved and helped me throughout my senior year,” Li said of her high school years at DeKalb County High School.
Now majoring in nutrition food science and dietetics she “always tries her best.” She lives in Corlew Hall where she is also the area board vice president.
Her scholarship list is impressive, and includes the Dream Scholarship and the Hope Scholarship.
“My first year is completely paid for,” Li said.
For Li, speaking English was the hardest part of the naturalization process.
“I am still learning,” she said.
Li hopes to work at the Tennessee Medical Center one day. “I like it over here,” she said. “I like everything over here.”
~Photo Credit: Matt Masters