Marleina was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Miami, eventually enrolling at Valencia Community College in Orlando. Marleina went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. As the president of the Carolina Philosophy Club and undergraduate conference organizer, she spent her time at UNC working to challenge demographic disparities in academia. After attending the MIT Philosophy in an Inclusive Key Summer Institute, Marleina was named an ambassador for making philosophy more inclusive. Before beginning her graduate career, she worked supporting children with special needs at a local public school. Her personal and professional experiences led her directly to advocacy and policy.
Since beginning her graduate work, Marleina has been a researcher for various projects, including the Housing and Health in Trenton project with Princeton University, which studies the relationship between health disparities and affordable housing, and a project at Rutgers surrounding fines and fees which she presented at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management conference. She recently earned her Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) in Management and Policy at Rutgers University, where she was an Eagleton Fellow.
She is currently a policy analyst and State Policy Fellow at New Jersey Policy Perspective, where her research is focused on the criminal legal system.