Maria Hernandez Figueroa has worked in the field of higher education for over 16 years within the California State University (CSU) system and the California Community College System. She has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Public Finance, a Bachelor’s Degree in History, and an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts. She is a proud alumna of the California Community College System and the first in her family to graduate from college. Maria brings a wealth of lived personal experience and a love for education to her daily interactions with students. Coupled with her academic and professional training, this allows her to have a comprehensive understanding of the experiences that many college students face and what professionals can do to support their success. She contributes her passion for education and her personal quest to increase equitable access to education. This guides her actions, keeps her grounded, and student-centered. In her professional roles, she has worked with programs that have been founded on increasing access to education for groups of people that have been historically underrepresented in higher education due to their socio-economic status. She has worked supporting students who experienced foster care both at the CSU and community college level. Additionally, she has experience working with students who are low-income, single parents, undocumented, experiencing homelessness, and/or were formerly incarcerated.
Maria was born in Mexico and came to the United States when she was a small child. She has 5 brothers and 4 sisters who live throughout the United States. Maria is a proud mom of two boys, one is in college and one is in elementary school. In her free time, Maria is a supporter for the Orange County and Pomona Chapters of the California Youth Connection which is a youth-led organization that advocates for legislative and policy change in California’s foster care system. In her community, she sits on the Board of her son’s school and remains very active within her city. She is a member of the Soroptomist Chapter of Puente Hills which promotes the success of women. Her favorite places in the world are beaches, mountains, and deserts. She enjoys traveling with her family to any location with a beach. Her favorite food is Vietnamese and enjoys eating it with her friends.