Michael Mei’s life has been transformed in the past few years. A large part of his sweeping changes involved Thomas Nelson Community College and Literacy for Life (LFL), an adult education agency that gave Mei the boost he needed to enroll at Thomas Nelson in 2014 and transfer to the College of William & Mary just two years later.
Mei and his parents left their home in northern China nearly three years ago and moved to Williamsburg. “I was raised in China and I came to America when I was 19. We decided to live here permanently because we love the better life here. Also, I really wanted to further my education in America,” Mei recalls.
He reaped several benefits while attending Thomas Nelson and enrolled with Literacy for Life. “When I came here, I didn’t speak English well and I was afraid people couldn’t understand me, so I was afraid of talking with people. I learned how to express myself and I learned how to get along with people. Thomas Nelson and LFL really helped me get used to the life here especially how to make friends and be comfortable in this environment,” says Mei.
Now more self-assured, Mei has a part-time job and is continuing his studies with plans to declare a major in Business or Accounting. Aspiring to a career in business or finance, he looks fondly upon his time spent at Thomas Nelson. He was inducted into the College’s Phi Sigma chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society while enrolled and has special appreciation for Kathy Arcement of Student Services at the Historic Triangle campus. “She really made me feel like there’s somebody who is supporting me, especially when I’d just come to America. She really helped me feel like I belonged here,” he says.
Mei is also thankful to his Literacy for Life tutor, Bonnie Smith, for her contributions to his transition. “She helped me all the way to William & Mary. We overcame a lot of difficulties. I just felt warm and comfortable when I was in Literacy for Life because the people care,” says Mei, noting that his parents also studied English as a Second Language with LFL.
Thomas Nelson’s partnership with LFL began in September 2014 when the agency opened its first satellite office at Thomas Nelson’s Historic Triangle campus. Headquartered at the College of William & Mary, the agency has provided tutoring for greater Williamsburg adults in English as a Second Language, reading, writing and math and since the 1970s.