President Astrid S. Tuminez Speaks at UVU's 79th Commencement

Utah Valley University President Astrid S. Tuminez's address at the university's 79th commencement on Aug. 19, 2020.



Class of 2020, you have made history by persisting and graduating in the time of a pandemic. Future historians will record the very unusual circumstances of your success.

This evening I would like to share three words for you to think about: celebrate, innovate, and contemplate.



You have not only finished your degrees, but you have shown resilience and an open mind to new habits and new ways of learning in the midst of COVID-19.

Together with professors, staff, friends, and families, you have been able to adapt and thrive. You have used technology to stay connected, create, and produce. You have learned to ask for help when needed. Pause now, take a deep breath, and savor this moment.

The ability to see what is positive in your life, to know your own strengths, to laugh, dance, jump in the air — to know how to celebrate — this is the hallmark of a Wolverine. This is an ability you will need for the rest of your life.



You are making your way in a world of tension and contradiction. Some of us have massive computing power in our hands, but 3.7 billion people in the world have no access to the internet.

We produce more food than ever before, but malnutrition is the main cause of death and disease globally. Social media connects us to hundreds and thousands of friends, but loneliness is an epidemic.

In the United States, we have had the Civil Rights Act since 1964, but we know that nearly 50 years later we are still struggling with Martin Luther King’s dream when he said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” As you pursue your professions and raise your families, innovate.

Think differently, critically, and creatively. How can you make the world a better place? How can you blend service and compassion with competition and a free market?  How can you make yourselves free while also maximizing the freedom of others? How can you help correct age-old racial and other injustices?

These are hard questions. Use your learning and experiences at UVU to help you think through these problems and tackle them in new and effective ways.



What is your purpose? I know that Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok, Google, Reddit, and the internet can bring you unlimited information and endless entertainment. But they can also whittle all your time and energy to nothing. You must contemplate your purpose.

When I was 19 years old, I wrote three things on a three-by-five card that would be important in my life: to be happy, to be useful, and to be charitable. I am glad that I wrote these things down. Through good times and bad, through doubt and faith, through poverty and prosperity, through sadness and joy, that three-by-five card has anchored me to a solid foundation.

I have been able to make good choices and understand trade-offs and sacrifices. My life is highly imperfect, but having a purpose has given me motivation, helped me to tune out noise, and allowed me to recover from adversity.

Dear Wolverines, I will be thinking of you as you make your way in the world. Let me share a story to send you on your way. As a child living in a hut on stilts in the sea, I was terrified of typhoons. Every year, we would get one or two. My hut would shake on its bamboo moorings, and the rain would splash through our flimsy grass roof. Many a time, I thought I would not make it through the night.

But I was surprised to wake up the next day to find sun and calm. I learned powerfully that I could not stop the storms, but I could survive them. They did not last forever.

The Buddhist nun Pema Chodron said, “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.”

Storms will throw you out of your nest and your comfort zone. Be courageous. Never give up. Remember that you are gritty Wolverines.

All of us here at UVU love you and are proud of you. We believe in your great potential, and we wish you success in your future endeavors. Godspeed!



Chodron, P. (2000). When things fall apart: Heart advice for difficult times, Shambhala Publications.

Perez, M. (2019). “Martin Luther King Jr. Day: 17 quotes to honor the American civil rights activist, Newsweek. Retrieved from