Minerva Cordero always had the support of her parents. Her mother, who only completed the seventh grade, valued Education and often said to her children, "The best thing I can give you is an Education." Cordero and her five siblings could be found every night doing homework and talking about what they learned in school. "We learned each others' subjects."
Cordero wanted to go to college. On her own initiative, she bought a SAT review book and completed all of the problems. Her SAT score has remained the highest ever achieved at her high school, Miguel Melendez Munoz High School.
While Cordero was in graduate school at the University of Puerto Rico, she applied for a National Science Foundation (NSF) Minority Graduate Fellowship and was awarded the fellowship. With encouragement and support from her professors, she applied to universities in the United States to continue her graduate studies. The University of California at Berkeley overlooked the late date of her application and enthusiastically admitted her. Cordero graduated from Berkeley in 1983 with a M.A. in Mathematics. She continued her graduate studies at the University of Iowa and received her Ph.D. degree in 1989 under the supervision of Professor Norman Johnson. Her dissertation was entitled, "On p-primitive planes."
Cordero enjoys research and teaching. Her research has received support from NSF and the Texas Tech College of Arts and Sciences. She received a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) grant from NSF that has seen one of her students matriculate to a graduate program. In 1994, she received the New Faculty Award at Texas Tech University; and in 1995, she received the Professor of the Year Award given by the student chapter of The Mathematical Association of America at Texas Tech University.