Mara graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Honours in Women and Gender Studies. Her undergraduate thesis focused on education policy with a primary emphasis on state-funded equity in education programs. Prior to arriving at Oxford, Mara worked with the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the Office of Student Recruitment at U of T to design and implement campaigns aimed at accessibilizing the university for under-represented "first in the family" high school students. In 2017 she began a Pop-Up Workshop series which toured inner-city schools and offered support for first in the family students interested in pursuing higher education. Her equity work began and remains rooted in the Portuguese community.