Dámaris was born in Alicante, in the southeast region of Spain. She grew up speaking valenciano with her grandparents and Spanish at home. Additionally, Alicante is a city on the coast, and so Dámaris grew up surrounded by people of different nationalities who vacationed in the summer, and by immigrants who decided to settle in Alicante. Being exposed to a multilingual environment sparked her interest in language acquisition and maintenance.
Dámaris graduated with her PhD in Hispanic Linguistics, with a focus on psycholinguistics, in 2018. During her time at UF, she recalls that courses she took in the Department of Linguistics with Dr. Edith Kaan and Dr. Wind Cowles influenced her growing interest in the psycholinguistics of bilingualism, and when Dr. Jorge Valdés Kroff joined the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies in 2015, all the pieces fell into place for what would become her dissertation research. In that work, Dámaris explored the cognitive mechanisms that bilinguals use to acquire languages. Specifically, she was interested in studying the effects of lexical frequency and grammatical styles in different groups of native speakers from Florida.
Dámaris currently is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. There, she teaches language classes and is working on developing courses for heritage speakers of Spanish. As she reflected on her time at UF and her transition to academic life, we asked Dámaris if she had any advice for those interested in or already pursuing graduate study. She responded: “Time management is very important for leading a balanced life so that you can have time to relax and enjoy life … and that can only be done in graduate school if you are well organized.”