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Maria was born the youngest of three children to a comparatively traditional family in Argentina. While comparatively isolated from a lot of technology and non-human culture, she was heavily immersed in a broad range of earth languages and customs early on, notably the cultures of several indigenous peoples from the region and the greater Americas. She demonstrated significant aptitude for music and especially dance from a young age. Her parents quickly pushed her into top schools from the area, eventually resigning to let her use a transporter to commute to Buenos Aires for lessons. The family moved to Paris in 2380, nominally for opportunities for the whole family, but in no small part to offer even more opportunities to Maria's training.
She attended the prestigious Tisch School for the Arts in New York for a degree in music majoring in dance, where by all accounts she excelled with a combination of exceptionally hard work and natural intellect. Her master's degree marked a significant shift away from her focus on human-based cultures, at least formally, with a specialism in xeno-musicology. Records indicate special proficiency picking up languages and instruments, at least conversationally. After graduation, she joined a dance group specializing in experimental combinations and synthesis of various styles. Despite strong reviews - one critic calling the group 'an explosive tour-de-force of physical dynamism' - the group disbanded after just over a year lacking popular reception and experiencing creative disagreements.
No records exist on why Maria joined Starfleet in a sudden change of career. Admissions advisors were skeptical about admitting her given this in addition to her psychological profile, but were ultimately swayed by a recommendation from her Brother in Law, who serves as a Lieutenant in Starfleet. Given her educational background, she was granted several credits accelerating her timetable for graduation. Her academy record is exceptionally average, remarkable only for a considerable number of derogatory remarks surrounding her behavior and conduct; though none seemingly serious enough to merit real attention. Several instructor remarks cite high potential, but a stubborn unwillingness to apply herself. She largely avoided any cultural or artistic types of classes at the academy, and rejected offers to join extracurriculars that would have made sense with her musical past. She was known to associate with multiple groups of high-performing cadets, developing a handful of loyal friendships and equally many confrontational relationships.