Dr. Astrid Tuminez: 2019 English Symposium Keynote Speaker

As part of BYU’s annual English Symposium, Dr. Astrid S. Tuminez (President of Utah Valley University) gave the keynote address.

PROVO, Utah (February 28, 2019) –– Dr. Astrid S. Tuminez, current President of Utah Valley University, recently gave the keynote address at BYU’s 2019 English Symposium. One of BYU’s alumni, Tuminez shared her personal love of the humanities and related her experiences as a Humanities graduate.

Born in a small farming village in the Philippines, Tuminez recalled the power that education brought with it. She shared the story of when nuns from the Daughters of Charity came to her home. When one of them offered Tuminez and her siblings the chance to attend the country’s second-most expensive school for free, they “jumped at the opportunity.” It was here that Tuminez first learned to read. She noted “I couldn’t read at all when I joined the school, and I discovered how to read, and I just read everything.” To her, this opened a new world of possibilities and helped foster within her a lifelong love of literature.

By the time Tuminez got to BYU, education had continued to provide new opportunities for her. Tuminez took classes in mathematics, zoology, and chemistry before finally finding her true passion to be Russian literature. “I found great mentors here in the Russian department,” Tuminez recalled. She remembered the kindness one professor showed by taking a “calculated risk” and hiring her as a secretary despite her failing grade on the secretarial typing test. Within the College of Humanities, Tuminez found mentors that inspired her to pursue her love of the Humanities with a double major in International Relations and Russian Literature.

Although Tuminez is “more of a humanities person,” she also spent time in the worlds of business and technology as she worked for Microsoft, Harvard, and other companies. Interacting with many different people in all parts of the world taught her just how valuable skills learned by humanities majors can be. “If you can read, understand, analyze, and synthesize,” she noted, “any right-thinking CEO will hire you.”

Tuminez concluded by noting how, as current President of Utah Valley University, she has a chance to use both her humanities skills every day. “I think the humanities helps us know how to conduct great conversations,” she explained, “. . . and great conversations mean that because we are human and humane, we see the people that we are with. We take them to the yard, we work with them, we are honest with them.” It is precisely this understanding and teamwork, Tuminez said, that lead to great things.

—Jensyn Eubank (English ’20)