We’ve been really excited to share this week’s interview with you. Our guest was Astrid Tuminez, President of Utah Valley University. Astrid is an absolute delight to talk with and listen to. She’s full of stories, humor, and deep insights that made our time with her pass way too quickly.
This interview actually came about because Astrid wrote an essay in Melissa Inouye and Kate Holbrook’s new book Every Needful Thing. We loved Astrid’s essay and knew we wanted to get to know her better.
Astrid has an absolutely fascinating and unique story. She grew up in the slums of the Philippines, but along with her siblings, was discovered to have an exceedingly bright intellect and was offered a free place at one of the most prestigious and expensive Catholic schools in the area. As a child, she was, religiously, a Catholic, but felt that she was always brimming with questions that were being hushed. When she eventually met the Latter-day Saint missionaries, it was a different experience — they gave her a new framework to think about the world, and weren’t afraid to at least try to answer her questions.
Astrid’s pursuit of education eventually took her to the United States, where she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and Russian literature from Brigham Young University. She later earned a master’s degree from Harvard University in Soviet Studies and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in political science. Before becoming President of UVU, Astrid spent many years in leadership in the corporate, non-profit, and academic worlds.
What we maybe loved most about Astrid was that her unique perspectives make the world of faith and intellect seem expansive, exciting, and adventurous — even full of mystery. She’s found spiritual insight and even practice well outside of Mormonism while simultaneously keeping that “fixed foot” in the Restored Gospel. In a real way, she’s living Joseph Smith’s injunction to “receive truth, let it come from whence it may.”