My name is Tri Ngo, pronounced like "try" and "no".
I value all people, regardless of their background.
My parents fled on foot from Southern Vietnam to a refugee camp on the border of Thailand and Cambodia where I was born in 1984. Along the way they carried my older brother who has cerebral palsy. Their story still inspires me today.
I grew up on welfare in inner city Philadelphia. My second grade teacher believed in me more than I could believe in myself at the time. Teachers are creators. Students grow into the greatness that their teachers see in them.
Later we moved to Atlanta, a southern city with a thriving middle class Black population. From there I got into the school of my dreams, MIT, where I studied Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. I became the first in my family to achieve a college degree.
I am driven by ideals and principles.
In 2008 I learned from Professor Lawrence Lessig the corrupting influence of money in politics, shattering my belief in the American mythology which states that we truly have a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” After Professor Lessig endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, I joined the campaign as a field organizer, intent on addressing this issue of corruption in politics.
After the Obama campaign, I attended Johns Hopkins University to complete a PhD in Biomedical Engineering with the intent of developing new medical imaging methods to study the brain. I hoped to enable new treatments for people with neurological conditions like my older brother.
I came to realize the academic path wasn’t for me and I turned my attention on addressing global warming. I came to California to work at Tesla as a Battery Management Systems Engineer. I have been in Oakland for four years and currently work part time at a solar inverter company.
Now I see the Oakland I love changing rapidly and I don’t see our leadership acting with the urgency required to save our communities. I see these issues as symptomatic of a system that is disconnected from the will of the people. For change to occur we must jumpstart the engine of civic engagement and insist on accountability from our leaders.