Volleyball coach gains citizenship

Head University volleyball coach Danijela Tomic officially gained her United States citizenship Sept. 18.

    Though she has been living in the U.S. since 1995, she was not a full citizen until now. Tomic is from Bosnia and Herzegovina, but she came to America to play college volleyball.

    “I got a chance to play (volleyball) in college, and I received a full athletic scholarship to play at my alma mater University of Arkansas Little Rock,” Tomic said. At Little Rock, she began coaching and became an assistant coach at University of Arkansas after. Her coaching career took off from there. Tomic has been playing volleyball since she was 12 years old. She was also actively coaching before she moved to the U.S.

    “I just fell in love with coaching and decided I wanted that to be my career, and this is the best country in my opinion to do that. … And I wanted to provide other young women opportunities I was given as a student athlete,” Tomic said.

    She has been coaching the University team since January 2012. This will be her sixth season with the Falcons.

    Tomic decided to become a citizen after the recent presidential election because she said she wanted to be able to vote and participate in future elections. She has been a permanent resident and has had her green card, but there is a five year period between becoming a resident and gaining citizenship.

    According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website, to become a citizen you must first submit an application for naturalization. After they receive the application, candidates must go through a biometrics appointment and then attend an interview in which the applicant is tested on general knowledge about the U.S. Then they must read and write a sentence in English. Once applicants have completed and passed all the steps, they will be allowed to take the “Oath of Allegiance” to become full citizens. The full naturalization process takes an average of six months.

    “I’m very very proud, I feel this is a home for me. … It’s nice to know that legally I am no different from somebody who is born in the United States,” Tomic said. “I feel like I’ve contributed to this country in the last 22 years, and it’s nice to be recognized for that.”