"Mexican by descent, Texan by birth, Australian by choice", as she described herself for the anthology Hope and Fear (1994), Alma Aldrete grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, the southernmost part of Texas, in a segregated society where English was spoken only to communicate with 'them', and where social injustice was a real, not an intellectual issue. Her experience in an orphanage and of institutionalized racism propvided the stimulus for her documentary piece Prejudice. Her mother was a strong influence on her life, teaching her about Mexican and indigenous history, and about the wars for agrarian reform in Mexico which were a living part of their folklore, music and religion.
She dropped out of school in 9th grade to marry and later trained as a licensed vocational nurse. At that time Mexican-Americans were new in medical fields, having been up to then only maids or nurse-aids. To save her children from prevailing racist attitudes that might limit their horizons she decided that Australia was the best place for her children to grow up. Aldrete has been politically active here as a member of Women's Liberation and as one of the founding members of the Women's Electoral Lobby (SA).
Aldrette has an Associate Diploma in Aboriginal Studies from the Adelaide College of Advanced Education, and a BA in Anthropology and Asian Literature from the University of Adelaide and has been President of the SA Multicultural Writers' Association, first in the 1980s and again from 2004. She earlier published under her first name, 'Alma' to save confusion, because she had been married three times. She has been a frequent participant on Radio 5UV and 5EBI, reading short stories in Spanish and English. She has done numerous poetry readings at writers' groups and for schools, and in 1982 represented both Friendly Street and Multicultural Writers at Writers' Week. A Level II interpreter- translator, Aldrette's employment has included the teaching of English in Nepal, being guest lecturer and tutor in Aboriginal and Women's Studies and tutoring Aboriginal women in prison. She has travelled to India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. An interest in mystic studies led her to a Tibetan monastery and to the Sufi path. Her Buddhist name is 'Tenzin Palmo'. Aldrette's personal visions, experiences and studies provide the inspiration for her stories and poems, and for her sculptures, which focus on different aspects of the Medusa. She has also worked as a seer.
In 1997 she did volunteer work for Radio 5UV's Media, Culture and Politics programme; writing, producing and interviewing.She has been active in supporting Human Rights issues.