Where are they now? Maria Cuadra

The College of Arts, Sciences & Education prepares students for life after graduation to become successful leaders in the community. We went on a search to find CASE alumni who are thriving in their careers. This is one in a series we’ve titled, Where are they now?

Maria Cuadra

Your network is your net worth. These words drive how Maria Cuadra lives her life. Attending FIU and becoming part of the Panther family was an easy choice for the then NFL cheerleader.

Cuadra, who had a love for the arts, once dreamed of becoming a choreographer or a television producer. During her undergraduate degree, her vision changed however when many of her peers were getting into real estate. In 2005, the market seemed to be in a good place. Real estate appeared to be a way to make money quickly so Cuadra obtained her real estate license.

All the while, she kept changing her major trying to find the right fit for her new path. After trying a few times, she landed on one that was right for her – liberal studies.

“Meeting with an advisor and talking about the program, I thought it was just perfect,” Cuadra said. “I could learn a little bit about anything… weather, the ocean, animals, movies. It was just overall perfect for me. It was a [great] tool to [build] the career I was planning.”

The liberal studies program gave her the flexibility to take a variety of classes which allowed her to craft her own life course.

After graduating in 2011 she continued to work as a real estate agent. In 2015, she returned to school to earn a master’s degree in international real estate from FIU’s College of Business.

This prompted her transition from a real estate agent – someone who has earned a real estate license – to a real estate broker – someone who has passed the broker license exam and can hire agents to work for them.

Maria Cuadra on the cover of Feb. 2018 issue of Miami Agent Magazine

“Once I got my real estate brokers license, I just went off on my own. I opened my own brokerage. I’ve been open for three years,” Cuadra said.

Since opening The Cuadra Group LLC with her husband, she’s been featured in several publications including the February 2018 cover of Miami Agent Magazine.

“After 15 years, I have found the reason I have been successful is because my focus changed. Instead of becoming money-driven, I became people-driven.”

Cuadra recalls taking her two young children – now 11 and 6 years old – with her to inspections, appraisals, closings and listing appointments.

“That was just a personal decision. I want to try to raise them in such a way … that when they are ready for the world, they can make better decisions.”

Her commitment didn’t come without a set of challenges. There were times when the hard-working mother was showing properties and her children needed to use the restroom. 

“Sometimes there wasn’t toilet paper. I had wipes in the cars. It was embarrassing. I was with clients.”

While this was a hurdle in her career, Cuadra views it as a positive one. Her choice allowed her to teach her children the importance of building relationships and engaging with different people. For her, that is the “best part” of her story.

With multiple accolades including a three-time honor in Miami Agent’s magazine “Who’s Who,” Cuadra has great plans for the future.

Ten years from now, she hopes to expand The Cuadra Group LLC; however, she wants to keep the company “boutique style” to train everyone to be successful amongst the real estate sharks of south Florida.

Her dreams don’t stop there. This alumna hopes to give back to the university that’s given her so much. How? A scholarship for single parents.

“I chose single parents not because I’ve been a single parent… I am very happily married, but because of the choice I made early on in my career to work along with my children,” she said.

She feels fortunate to have had her husband on her side.

“[Even] for me, it was hard. I thought to myself, how [much] hard[er] is it when you don’t have that to come home to?”

Looking back at everything she has now and everything she has accomplished, Cuadra describes her life as blessed.

“It’s been a gift,” she said. “It’s God putting people in front of me to help them. Whether helping people find or sell a home… maybe they need the money or maybe they don’t, and they just want to sit down and talk. [With] that alone, I’ve already made the biggest commission.”