Mak grew up in Portland by way of St. Johns, North Portland. He has been student organizing since early in his college days. He is the founder of the Pacific Islander Student Alliance (PISA), which started in 2007 when he was an undergraduate student. He is also the founding coordinator of the Men of Color Leadership Program at Portland Community College, and before that, he was the coordinator of the Pacific Islander, Asian and Asian American (PIAAA) Student Center at Portland State University, the Manager of Continuing Education at the University of the South Pacific, Majuro Campus, and the Director of the Office of Student Activities and Leadership at Chaminade University.

Makerusa is a second-generation American Samoan from the village of Fogagogo. Mak started his college education at American Samoa Community College. He later received his BS from Portland State University, and a Master’s in Education from Chaminade University of Honolulu.  Away from his day job, Mak is an organizer with the Pacific Climate Warriors of 350 Pacific, and is Chair of the Samoa Pacific Development Corporation, a 501(c)(3) Organization for Samoans in Oregon.