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Maria Cisneros

10,000 Degrees

Napa, CA

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Maria is a passionate and committed volunteer at 10,000 Degrees in Napa, which helps students from low-income backgrounds earn college degrees. She has worked in the Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD) for 26 years, and has served as principal for 15 years at Valley Oak High School, a school for at-promise youth.

Helping first-generation college students is near and dear to Maria’s heart. Born in Mexico, she immigrated to the United States at age 10 and became the first in her family to graduate from both college and graduate school.

“It was organizations like 10,000 Degrees that supported my education growing up. That’s what helped me get here,” Maria says. “It’s important for me to participate in organizations that are always doing good things for underrepresented kids, helping them break a cycle or open doors.”

As an advisory board member, Maria has been instrumental in establishing an agreement with NVUSD to provide college support services to low-income students. “My greatest joy is that I was able to ensure that our district leadership understood the importance of bringing 10,000 Degrees onto our campus, not only to support the kids during their senior year, but to stay with them throughout their college experience,” she says. “For me, that is the best gift any first-generation student can get.”

For more than 20 years, Maria has been deeply involved with immigrant rights and Latinx organizations such as the Napa Hispanic Network, and she continues to serve on the boards at Mentis, the Napa Valley Community Foundation, and Fair Housing Napa Valley.


Alaina nominated an Everyday Hero, Maria Cisneros, for #EverydayHero #InJoy @Stsupery to celebrate their volunteer contributions to and #givingback.

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