Maria was the 6th of 12 children in her family and was raised in Cape Verde, West Africa. She became a social worker and served ill children and elderly people before coming to the United States in 1982.
As so many immigrants have to do, she had to start her career over again. While learning English, Maria worked her way up from a shrimp factory laborer, to supervisor, to waitress. After arriving in Maine in 1989 she began to work at the hospital and started as a cashier while attending more schooling and becoming a CNA, and later a respiratory therapist and cardiology technician. This is the work she continues to enjoy today.
Maria is a natural community organizer and in 2002 she founded Amigos de Mente (Friends of Mind) which is an independent organization that gets medical resources into the hands of people who need them. This organization also hosts an annual party on Peaks Island called Immigrant Reunion, (this year on September 3, 2016).
Maria was recognized as a Trailblazer this year at the Empower the Immigrant Woman conference.
Music: "Criolas" by Cape Verde Shore
Sunday June 2nd tune in to meet Ken Niyonkuru who grew up in Burundi, is about to graduate from high school in Maine and has been accepted to Connecticut College for the fall.