The Denison Community

The Denison community suffered the loss of one of our beloved students, Tianyue LI ‘19, on the night of Tuesday, March 12. Below, two of her friends reflected on the impact Tianyue had on each of their lives in personal recounts. In this edition to memorialize her life, here is how the community can remember her.


The day before I heard the news about Tianyue, I walked down the hill to The Open House and I heard a woodpecker. The woodpecker was very loud and excited; I listened for about a minute or two and continued to walk. I heard a voice call out and it turned out to be Rev Timothy Carpenter. I said hello and immediately informed him that we needed to pray,

“Something does not feel right in my spirit”, I said to him.

“Okay let’s do that now.” Rev said.  After praying, I felt little better, but I still felt something was not right.

Leaving campus for dinner that night, I came back to see the north side of the campus packed with Granville police, Campus Security, and ambulances. When the campus gathered in Swasey later that evening, I couldn’t believe it was to mourn the loss of another student this year.

This past winter break I led a service trip to East St. Louis, Illinois. Tianyue was one of the ten students who went on the trip. When we returned to campus, Tianyue and I planned to cook a hot pot meal and catch up. I often saw Tianyue around campus; she had a beautiful smile she wore to class everyday. Although we became close because of the trip, I have known Tianyue for quite a while. We were both communication majors and we were in the same Theorizing Communication class my freshman year.

Although she was very quiet, Tianyue had a lot to say. Her words were filled with so much honesty and authenticity. I could tell that she would one day make a difference in the education field. On the trip, we had the chance to become closer and learn much more about each other. Tianyue told me how she wanted to get her doctorate and teach after she graduated. She couldn’t wait to graduate so that her parents could be proud of her accomplishments. They planned to celebrate back in China. Her favorite thing to do in her free time was cook and socialize with friends. She loved to go to the gym and explore new things outside of her comfort zone. I learned so much about her cultural background, and began to realize we were very similar in the way that we thought about the world around us.

Most importantly, she was passionate about the young kids that walk the planet today. Her love for helping children was evident in the many pictures and videos I took of her playing with them on the East St. Louis trip. One of the best days of our volunteer trip was when the group traveled to St. Louis. I remember exploring downtown and linking arms with Tianyue, along with our two friends. In that moment, I realized that we were laughing more than we were talking. On the trip she told me once, “It’s okay to be who you are, not everyone is going to accept who you really are.” I remember looking at Tianyue, and thinking how this girl was an amazing human being.

As we heal from this tragic loss, I think it is important to evaluate how we each self reflect. I truly hope to witness some change in the daily routine that we follow. Blame should not be thrown anywhere because we have a duty as a human race to take care of one another. I hope to see a better remembering process so we never forget the amazing students we have lost on this campus. I’ll never forget my good friend, even when I am on my own doing the things that I love.

Tianyue Li will always be missed among the people who knew her. We are all connected on this campus and we must be there for one another every day. Life goes on, time doesn’t stop for anyone, and I plan on leaning on others and healing spiritually as we all move forward.

–  Cierra King ‘20

Tianyue Li touched the lives of every person she met, and she will always be in the hearts of those who loved and knew her. The memories she shared with so many different people on Denison’s campus will be cherished and never forgotten. She was a hardworking student, an involved member in many organizations on campus and a friend who was always there for you. Tianyue Li was from Xi’an, China and looked forward to what Denison’s liberal arts education had to offer.

She shared her love of where she came from with others in her involvement in Asian Culture Club (ACC). She was always willing to try new things; she spent her spring semester of junior year abroad interning and studying in London. When she returned to campus to begin her senior year, she became a study abroad ambassador to share her positive experience in London with others. Tianyue helped so many students with the study abroad process because she took the time to give personal advice and answer questions.

She always wanted to help others. Tianyue spent time with her peers this past winter break on a Denison Breakaway service trip volunteering to help those in poverty in the East St. Louis, Illinois community. Although initially she didn’t know many of the other Denison student volunteers, Tianyue made many efforts to get to know everyone on the trip.

She loved traveling to new places, helping others, and she genuinely wanted to get to know people who were different than her. She had a bright smile, a good sense of humor, and always made connections to what you told her. You felt so valued when she listened to you and opened up about her own experiences.

She was one of the most loving and caring people you will ever meet. Her peers remember her as brilliant, mindful, bold, wise, kind, gentle and welcoming. There are no words to describe how much she gave to, and was loved by the Denison community.

We love you, Tianyue.

–  Mary Clare Edwards ‘21