As Astrid Tuminez puts it, her path to becoming the seventh president of Utah Valley University (UVU) looks more like a zig-zag than a straight line. Her life’s journey started in the slums of the Philippines. Still, her work and education took her around the globe before she assumed the position as the university’s first female president.
“I recognize my role is about more than just leading a university,” Tuminez said. “It’s about showing women the life they want is possible because if they don’t see it, they might not know what they can become,” she said.
One of the many things president Tuminez exemplifies is an ability to balance work and home life. While she acknowledges that life has several stages, she believes women often fall into the trap of dualistic thinking. They think their life must be either/or. For example, they can either be a mother or a businesswoman. Instead, she encourages women to think expansively and use the term when pursuing their dreams.
Speaking on the topic of pursuing dreams, Tuminez likes to quote Mary Oliver as she asks women to consider, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” she says, “The world likes to tell girls and women what they should be, what they should look like, and how they should behave. The most important voice is your own.”
She then offers three steps women can take to find their voice and path.
- Explore your passions. Take time to find things that make you feel alive, and do them. Try not to be afraid as you pursue the things you want.
- Invest in yourself. Investing in education is especially important. If you don’t invest in yourself, you may later find you have a limited number of tools to accomplish your goals.
- Be more forgiving. Forgive others, but especially learn to forgive yourself. Take the lessons from experiences and then move on.
Tuminez is also passionate about representation from a leadership perspective. Her experience has shown that solving complex problems requires a diversity of voices. She asks individuals to consider if they’re truly inclusive and believe in all types of human potential. If the answer is yes, and it should be, there should be space at the table for all to be represented. Tuminez says women become more confident by doing, so it’s important to give them opportunities to be in the room.
She notes that changing thoughts, behaviors, and how things are done is an incremental process. Instead of creating a grand plan full of lofty ideals, Tuminez encourages people to ask, “What can we do here and now?” and then make real commitments and implement them.