Walking in the Way of Honor: Reflections on My Grandmother’s Legacy

By Jen Wu, Kappa Omicron (Georgia Southern University Armstrong Campus)

As we wrap up Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we are pleased to feature Phi Mu Foundation Trustee and Past National Council Vice President Collegiate Operations, Jen Wu, Kappa Omicron (Georgia Southern University Armstrong Campus). Jen currently works as the Assistant Director of Operations for Levy Restaurants at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta where she has worked with the National Football League, Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball. She is a sports hospitality leader with over 20 seasons of experience spanning a wide array of events including Super Bowls VLIII and LIII, the MLS All-Star Match, the MLS Cup, the Democratic National Convention and the NCAA Final Four. Read below to learn more about Jen’s experience as a Chinese American, in her own words.

Phi Mu Foundation Trustee and Former National Council Vice President Jen Wu, Kappa Omicron (Georgia Southern University Armstrong Campus).

Recently the Levy Restaurant’s DIAC (Diversity and Inclusion Action Council) asked me, in honor of AAPI Heritage Month, to share: Who has been your professional and personal inspiration?

It was a great opportunity to reflect, but I first had to acknowledge – for myself, my community and our sisterhood – that in 2021, this month is more than a celebration of heritage and culture; it is also a platform to further #STOPASIANHATE. It is an opportunity to share what makes us unique while fighting to acknowledge what makes us the same.

But my answer the initial question was easy: My PoPo (grandmother) is both my personal and professional inspiration. As a little girl, she would tell me about how hard she fought to come to this country. I would try to envision what life looked like for her in China; how hard the steps were that she took to come to America – including obtaining a nursing degree; fighting with government agencies; and ultimately leaving her village to board a ship as a single woman. This story would play out in my mind like a movie, but it is only recently in the context of looking at history that I realize how truly difficult – and frightening – that must have been.

Jen wore her late grandmother’s dress to the Carnation Banquet at the 2012 National Convention in San Antonio. Lancy Wu, far left, passed away in 2006.

In rethinking her story, it’s easy to see that her journey may not be that dissimilar to many of our ancestors. There is so much to be proud of and learn from all of their fights.

My grandparents both worked hard for that “American Dream.” My grandmother became a naturalized citizen, but she didn’t stop there. She did everything she could to help win the fight for so many others. I remember helping her make copies, proofread and even recite the Pledge of Allegiance in preparation for naturalization ceremonies. In all, she helped countless individuals and families come to America from China, and then she tirelessly worked on their path to citizenship and took part in many naturalization ceremonies. There is now a memorial to her, in the U.S. District Court, in recognition of her work.

And she did all of this while raising a family, volunteering in the community and operating a successful business. She was always proud to be Chinese – though that was not what completely defined her. She shared her love for making wontons; her affinity for Chinese clothing; and her enjoyment in watching Elvis movies. I latched on to all of those things and more by emulating her – except I am still trying to figure out that wonton recipe!

In short, she spent her life fighting for everyone around her and being my role model.

My grandmother never told me about hard work, commitment, perseverance or compassion; she showed me. Because of her, I am who I am – a hard-working, strong-minded, Chinese American.

You can read more about the late Lancy Wu and her legacy in Savannah at http://bit.ly/LancyWu.