Maria Carmen Ballester was born in Spain.  She received her Título Profesional en la Especialidad de Piano from the Conservatorio Profesional de Música de Zaragoza in 1976. She finished a BA in Education in 1978 and in 1984 she graduated with a Licenciatura in History, Geography and Art at the University of Zaragoza in Spain.  In 1998, she earned an MA in Linguistics from UCR and received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.  Maria joined the University of California Riverside in 1998 as Coordinator of the Spanish Language Program, Undergraduate Division and teacher of Elementary Spanish courses. In October 2003, she was the Recipient of the Non-Senate Distinguished Teaching Award.