Mariana grew up in Southern California, the San Fernando Valley to be exact. She is a proud graduate of San Fernando High School Science and Math Magnet school (alma mater of U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (CA), George Lopez, Jacob Vargas and the late Ritchie Valens) a Title 1 public school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Growing up in a poverty stricken environment with lack of college graduate role models was not easy and Mariana credits her Junior and High School teachers who looked like her, for inspiring and helping her pursue higher academic/life goals. After high school, she attended Los Angeles Mission College and graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary and Paralegal Studies.
Mariana's mother immigrated from Mexico, to give her family a better life. This taught Mariana the value/commitment of family, hard work and service to others. Her mother raised her and two of her siblings as a single mother, (she later remarried and had 3 more daughters) and Mariana saw how hard working and dedicated her mother was to her family and the community they lived in. In 2007, Mariana and her husband Sergio decided to also offer their family a better life and moved to Arizona to raise their family, making the Far West their home since!
Mariana has dedicated her career to public service as a Paralegal in both nonprofit (Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County and Aziona Legal Women And Youth Services) and government sectors (Arizona Attorney General's Office). From January 2017 to December 2020, she served on the Agua Fria Union High School District Governing Board and continues her service on the AZ Latino School Board Association. In December of 2020, together with life-long educators and former school board members, Jeanne Casteen and Mary Kay Utecht, she co-founded AZ Education Guardians in order to continue educating and advocating for education related issues in our community.
Mariana believes Education is the great equalizer because it empowers our community to create sustainable futures! Our public school system is failing many children and teachers in our community, especially children of color. A safe and quality education should be affordable and accessible to all people, regardless of socioeconomic or immigration status.