As a child, her school attendance was not great because there were days when she went with her parents to work in the fields or sometimes she had to stay home and baby-sit her brothers and sisters while her parents went to work. Her family, eventually, moved to Los Angeles, California in 1969. She received her BA and Masters Degree in Math Education from Cal. State University, Los Angeles.
Maria's dream was to become a teacher, actress, or a doctor. She has been able to fulfill her three dreams as a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. At the present time, she is teaching a third grade class at Tweedy Elementary School in the city of South Gate, California. At school, she is very involved in different councils and committees where she has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children. Two of her favorite events that she is very involved in are the Cesar Chavez Program and Family Literacy Night. In these events, Maria encourages and promotes the love of Reading to children and the community and also to feel pride and promote leadership, culture, and social responsibility by knowing and emulating the good qualities of Cesar Chavez.
Maria is very involved in helping the community, especially if it involves helping children in any way possible. Maria and a group of friends got together and founded Proyecto Esperanza Latino, a non-profit organization. This group advocates the Arts. One of the events is purchasing a bus for the Museum of Latin American Arts so children can be picked up at their school, brought to the museum and be given a special tour, and taken back to their school at the end of the day; all for free.
Proyecto Esperanza Latino also organizes different fundraisers such as St. Jude Research Hospital for Children with cancer, Miller Hospital in Long Beach for children with cancer and Operation Smile for children with cleft palate. Maria says that it breaks her heart to see children who are suffering of an illness. She has a special connection to St. Jude children and Miller Hospital because she, herself, is a cancer survivor. When Maria was three months pregnant of her second child, she was diagnosed with cancer on her tongue and was told that she immediately needed surgery. For a while, it was painful to speak and eat but all she wanted was for her son to be born healthy, which he was! When her son was three months old, she was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer on her lymph nodes and, again, she needed surgery immediately. A week later, she was recovering from radical surgery, received eight weeks of radiation, and, eventually, took her years to recuperate. She was left with chronic pain.
At the present time, Maria, her husband, Jose, her children, granddaughter, immediate family, and friends are still organizing fundraisers, trying to make a difference in the life of a child. Maria, her family, and friends also continue promoting the Arts at school, community, and at the Museum of Latin American Arts.
Maria's passions are her family, teaching, and helping those in need!