Due to be sworn in to the 79th Legislature in two days but with an electoral challenge still hanging over his head, Hubert Vo talks about how he got here.
Vo worked as a busboy and a cook. He assembled digital watches and video games. He was robbed more times than he cares to remember as a convenience store clerk. He went door to door updating listings for telephone books. He's been a steelworker and a goldsmith, built computers and formed a computer company. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston, where he met his wife. And they're raising three children.
He got into real estate, built shopping centers, manages apartment complexes and even earned a license as an air-conditioning technician.
"I worked at different places, getting understanding of a worker, of a manager, of a supervisor," Vo said. "From the ground up, I have that hands-on knowledge, different classes of society. Hopefully I can understand the people of my district better than anybody else, because I've been through all those things myself."
In war-ravaged Vietnam, where his father worked for the Vietnamese navy and coast guard and had ties to the CIA, Vo was a freshman in college studying economics and politics when their world imploded.
His father brought home word they'd have to leave.
They boarded a boat to the Philippines, then went to a resettlement camp in Little Rock, Ark., which they chose over California (too expensive) and Pennsylvania (too cold). He and his family were adopted by a church congregation in Palestine in East Texas, moved to Lubbock in 1976 and to Houston a year later. His father had learned through a friend that Houston would be a good place to settle, crowded like Saigon and full of opportunity.