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UVU’s New President Invites Students To 'Come As You Are'

Photo of Astrid Tuminez.
Lee Hale / KUER

The newest president of Utah Valley University, the state's largest university, began her tenure this week. Before this, Astrid C. Tuminez was a regional director for Microsoft in Southeast Asia, supervising 15 markets in 10 countries.

Tuminez's career with Microsoft was one of nonstop travel. Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore and on and on. Now, she's settling down in Orem, Utah.

"I love it," Tuminez said. "Orem is fantastic."

Utah is important to Tuminez. She grew up in poverty in the Philippines but her life changed drastically when she moved to Provo in 1982 to attend Brigham Young University. She went on to study at Harvard and MIT. That launched a career that's included stints in Silicon Valley, New York and Hong Kong.

Her resume speaks for itself. But Tuminez, as a Filipino woman who stands just under 5 feet tall, is used to people underestimating her.

"When I lived in Hong Kong, there are hundreds of thousands of Filipino maids in Hong Kong, so I was routinely treated as a maid," Tuminez said. "My own doorman wouldn't let me into my building."

She also recalled a recent conference at a Ritz-Carlton in Singapore where she was asked to make photocopies. The slights haven't phased her, she said, and hopes her persistence serves as a model for students at UVU.

Tuminez knows many of them didn't get accepted to their top college choice. She also knows that half of them are working at least part-time to make ends meet.

"Come as you are," Tuminez said. "We take you, we accept you with whatever knowledge or skills and competencies you already have. And we will work with you to help you succeed and we will care for you."

Along with that care, Tuminez also wants the students to work hard. She said her life is evidence that hard work can defy expectations.

Tuminez is replacing Matthew Holland, who led UVU for 9 years until his assignment to preside over a Mormon mission in North Carolina.

Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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