Meet JT Wu!
My name's Jonathan Sung An Terrence Wu - or JT, for short.
I'm a proud lifelong Georgian, raised right here in Gwinnett County. I'm also a first-generation American - and I'm blessed to have experienced firsthand the power of the American Dream.
My folks came to America the 1980s, crossing an ocean in pursuit of a better education and a better life.
Their story, and mine, is a hallmark of the American experience - the kind of story that could only take place in the United States (and in the South!)
See, I'm the child of Asian-American immigrants with their own rich histories. Their stories informed mine - and, together, we're all part of the rich tapestry of multiculturalism here in Gwinnett.
Dad's family fled mainland China before the worst horrors of the Communist Cultural Revolution. They put down roots in Malaysia and founded their town's very first printing press - inspiring a love of books and learning that they passed down to each of their 7 children.
One of the youngest among his siblings, Dad's parents saved up for years so they could eventually send him to engineering school in the United States - and off to a brighter future.
Mom's side, on the other hand, has deep roots in the Philippines; and they broke barriers themselves.
Coming from a family of farmers, both my grandmother and my mother defied gender norms, devoting their careers to academia and science, during a time when that was well out of the mainstream in Asian culture.
Passionate about the power of science to make a difference in people's lives, 'Mama Wu' (as my friends and I call her!) earned a Fulbright Scholarship from the U.S. State Department and came to the United States to earn her doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Mississippi.
She's a firm believer in always trusting the science, and she passed that onto me.
And, the first gameday weekend she arrived at Oxford, MS, she met my dad in textbook Southern fashion: while they were waiting in line, dressed up to go to church. Our running joke is that the South knew them before they even knew the South!
They settled down in Gwinnett in 1994 and had me the same year, and they still live in the same house in Duluth that I grew up in. Times weren't always easy - but thanks to family, faith, and friends, my folks were able to achieve their own American Dreams.
Through layoffs and recessions, Mom and Dad worked hard every day to provide for our family. They sacrificed daily because they believed in the limitless potential that a good education could provide in America.
Thanks to them, I was able to go from kindergarten at Chattahoochee Elementary School right here in Gwinnett all the way up to graduating on scholarship from Princeton University, where I specialized in public policy.
I got my start in public service while I was still in college, bringing policy ideas into the real world by helping to advise State Department officials on US economic aid and global human rights protections. From China to Russia, we had to think outside of the box to try and see the forest through the trees, and I'm proud to have worked alongside leaders in the Obama administration to help address pressing international challenges.
I've gained experience in the private sector, too - witnessing our American economic engine at work, partnering with small businesses and massive organizations to fuel innovation and job creation, and learning how we can use the levers of policy to make our free markets work even better for workers and communities.
I've lived in places as diverse as Tennessee, New York, and Seoul, but in 2018, I chose to come back home to Gwinnett and to spend my career fighting for education, healthcare, and the next generation - all because of family, community, and the hometown promise of the American Dream.
I came home to give back to this community that made me who I am today, and I've devoted my career to fighting for educational opportunity, healthcare access, and an equal playing field for all our kids.
Every child deserves the same chances to thrive that I had growing up - and every day, I'm honored to be on the front lines forging relationships with our local leaders and fighting for our next generation.
I partnered with teachers, administrators, and parents to found a national award-winning early childhood literacy non-profit called Preface that's helping kids of all backgrounds learn to read - starting right here in Gwinnett. Our award-winning models have helped bring kids from functional illiteracy to reading at or above grade level, and we've been embraced by both the Georgia Department of Education and Gwinnett County Public Schools.
I serve on the Board of the Gwinnett County Public Library, where I've fought for living wages and pay raises for all our staff during COVID and helped open two brand new branches in Duluth and Norcross for our community.
And I've worked with doctors and governments across the country to advocate for expanded treatment options and healthcare access for patients suffering from chronic pain and substance use disorders - because we have to keep listening to the science and treat addiction as a disease, not a moral failing.
Together with local, state, and federal leaders, I've brought folks together from all walks of life to build a proven track record of getting things done for our community - and I'm fighting to bring that experience to bear for you inside the Georgia State House.
Tying everything together are fundamental values my parents taught me to cherish when I was younger - and values that I believe all of us share: Community, Opportunity, and Progress.
Because, even with all the chaos and division in our country today, I believe that we all still want the same things for our kids: a brighter future, a better tomorrow, and the right for every child to grow up happy, healthy, and safe.
That's why I'm running to be your voice in the Georgia State House, and why I'm working to earn your vote.
Georgia deserves leaders who understand what the American Dream can and should be for every child - and who will bring us together and stand up for our next generation.
So come join our team! Together, we can stand up for our kids and show exactly what makes Gwinnett a beacon of the New Georgia!