After five years or more of life in America, MTSU student Tammy Li of Smithville needs no more time to make up her mind. She became a U.S. citizen at a naturalization ceremony on the campus of her university last Monday, September 17.
MTSU celebrated Constitution Day by hosting a rare naturalization ceremony held outside Nashville for new Middle Tennessee citizens, according to a report in MTSU news.com. Li was among almost 300 people taking the oath of citizenship at the event.
Tammy Li, a bubbly 19-year-old freshman majoring in nutrition and food science, came to America from Fujian Province near Hong Kong in the People's Republic of China.
She lived with her parents in New York for a year but has lived in Smithville since her freshman year of high school. Li, who speaks Mandarin, Cantonese and other Chinese dialects, in addition to English, graduated high school in May with a 3.5 GPA. Her transcript includes membership in the Beta Club, the Science Club, 4-H and the Student Council.
"In the summertime, I worked six days a week, 12 hours a day, to save money," Li said. "I am very independent."
With that kind of track record, it comes as no surprise that Li received a HOPE scholarship and passed her citizenship test in the same week.
"I just feel that this is my home," Li said. "You have free speech, free religion."
She has come to feel that MTSU is also her home.
"MTSU gives me a chance to do my best," said Li. "The teachers are so nice. I feel like if I need help I can just ask people."
Back home in Smithville, Li raises her voice in song in the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church choir.
"I always put Jesus first, others second and self third," said Li.
(PICTURED ABOVE:Magistrate Judge Joe B. Brown of the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee poses for a photo with MTSU student Tammy Li (MTSU photo by Darby Campbell)