Marlena was born and raised in Baltimore City. She graduated from Western Senior High School in 2007 and went on to attend St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM) in southern Maryland. Marlena was heavily involved in student life and activities on campus, particularly through the Student Government Association, where she served as President. After graduating in 2011, she spent a year working in marketing before starting at Phi Alpha Delta as the Pre-Law Operations Assistant. Currently, she serves as the Assistant Executive Director.