As a first-generation Latina student, Maria Sandra has extensive personal knowledge of the numerous fears and challenges faced by first-generation/low-income students and students of color. She attributes her successes to her hard-working parents who she had the experience of working alongside as migrant workers. Maria Sandra holds a BA in English and secondary education teaching, an MA in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), and an EdS in educational leadership. She is a doctoral student in equity and diversity in education.
Her bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural background has helped her to advocate for disadvantaged students and Trio programs at the local, state and national level. Her personal, professional, and educational goals, life experiences, and passion to improve educational opportunities and outcomes of disadvantaged learners have also led her to serve on various organizations and boards. She has served as President for the Nevada Chapter of the Western Association of Educational Opportunity Personnel (WESTOP), to Washoe County Committee for Juvenile Services to campus diversity-related committees such as the Cultural Diversity Committee, The Status of Women Committee, and the Alianza Association for University Latinx faculty/staff.