Maria was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in a valley that closely resembles the topography of the Silicon Valley. When she was three years old, as a result of an accident, she lost eyesight in her left eye. Her early childhood memories included extended hospital stays with endless speeches from her parents on the importance of confidence and perseverance. In spite of their humble origins, she still views her father as a visionary and her mother as a feminist. Their speeches inspired her to believe that seeing with one eye was not going to define who she was as a person. During her teenage years, Bolivia was ruled by a dictatorship so she channeled her youthful rebelliousness by becoming an activist. After graduating from high school, she attended college in Oklahoma and then traveled to France for her MBA. She lived in Paris for a total of twelve years and held executive corporate positions at Seagram Brands Inc. and Wyeth-Ayerst Clinical Research. Since she was young, she engaged in freelance journalism. While vacationing in California, she had the opportunity to interview Jaime Escalante, who discovered that a teacher was hidden inside her. Who would dare to contradict professor Escalante? Thus she became a public school Spanish teacher in 1998 and this new career has been just as fulfilling as it is frustrating. “Our public education system lacks effectiveness due to its highly hierarchical and bureaucratic nature.” Recently, she decided to channel that frustration by contributing to a series of initiatives that are dedicated to changing the education system, as we know it. Some of her goals include:
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