filipino woman international graduate president
Studying internationally is a great way to open leadership doors. Source: YouTube.

As a child, the odds were stacked against Astrid S. Tuminez, Utah Valley University’s (UVU) new president, but she is a shining example of what hard work and determination can do.

Despite being born and raised in poverty in a slum in the Philippines, Tuminez became a student in the US and now proudly holds the title of Utah Valley’s president – the first woman in history to do so.

“I’m dazed and amazed, and I want to thank all of you,” Deseret News reported Tuminez said when it was announced she was to become the seventh president of Utah Valley.

The Utah State Board of Regents voted unanimously at the end of last week.

Tuminez is not the only woman at the top of her game in the state of Utah; of the eight higher education institutes, three are headed by women.

“My life was completely transformed by education,” Tuminez, who has graduate degrees from both Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said.

“I was raised in the slums of the Philippines and I was five years old when Catholic nuns offered me and my siblings a chance to go to school.

“So that changed the entire trajectory of my life, and that’s what makes it so exciting for me to be in a university like UVU.”

Tuminez now has US citizenship after she emigrated in 1982. After her mother left when she was five, her then-15-year-old sister raised Tuminez and her six siblings. She was the first in her family to attend college and went on to study at two of the most prestigious universities in the world.

She has been the Regional Director for Corporate, External and Legal affairs in Southeast Asia at Microsoft since 2012.

Tuminez wants to inspire another generation, to show them anything is possible if they believe in themselves and work hard enough for it.

“This is a university that believes in the innate dreams and capacities of people and to build on that, to help each person make their own way but give them the skills and competencies so their chances of succeeding in life and having a good life are a bit better,” she said.

UVU’s president’s former job roles include Vice Dean of Research and Assistant Dean of Executive Education at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, as well as Senior Consultant to the US Institute of Peace, Director of Research at AIG Global Investment, and Program Officer at Carnegie Corporation of New York.

She also ran the Moscow office of the Harvard Project on ‘Strengthening Democratic Institutions’.

“Dr. Tuminez has proven to be a dynamic leader across academic, nonprofit, public policy and corporate sectors,” Chairman of the Board of Regents Daniel Campbell said.

“Throughout her storied career, she has focused on bridging gaps in education and opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Tuminez is now at the head of the 37,200 students enrolled at UVU, the largest public university in Utah.

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