In 1976, Maria began her 28-year career at what was then St. Petersburg Junior College. She served the college in many leadership roles including co-founding the Women on the Way program with Dr. Vilma Zalupski and Mrs. Helen Gilbart. The program, which promotes success among women returning to college, celebrated its 35th anniversary last year.
Maria’s passion for helping students continued beyond her retirement in 2004. In addition to serving on the boards of several local agencies and non-profits, Maria worked tirelessly to establish and promote the Gabe Cazares Memorial Scholarship in 2013 to honor the former Clearwater Mayor and Pinellas County Commissioner who was her long-time friend and mentor. Last year, she helped lead our efforts to secure support from Consulado De Mexico En Orlando to establish a scholarship benefiting students of Mexican descent.
These accomplishments only begin to tell the story of Maria’s service to this community. She will be deeply missed by all of us who had the good fortune to know and work with her and by the thousands more whose lives she helped improve