Thirty-one years after graduating from high school, Mariko earned her A.A. degree magna cum laude from West Los Angeles College in 2009. She transferred to UCLA in 2011, and in 2013, she graduated cum laude with a B.A. in History and a minor in African American Studies. While at UCLA, she ¬†worked in the Afrikan Student Union's student-initiated, student-run program called S.H.A.P.E. (Students Heightening Academic Performance Through Education). As a Site Coordinator, she provided tutoring, counseling and mentoring to underrepresented middle and high school students. As a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow she examined the intersectionality of single African American welfare mothers in the Reagan Era and conservative rhetoric that portrayed them as "unAmerican." Through her graduate research, Mariko investigates the impact of public policy as it relates to access within higher education. By deconstructing the dynamics of race and class within education, Mariko seeks to explore the stratification of college opportunity for low-income & first generation African Americans. Furthermore, she is interested in identifying whether college access indicates the trajectory of generational access given other variables related to the marginalization of African Americans in the United States.