Marina Silva is the rising star of her political party and is in the running to becoming Brazil's first black president.

Silva's humble beginnings as a young girl growing up in the Amazon jungle, nearly dying three times, her environmentalist activism and now working with the Brazilian government has earned her the right to become a presidential candidate. This is a spotlight on her background and how an underdog politician is gaining political influence and fame in Brazil.

Silva came from a poor family living in the Amazon jungle. Silva was born in 1958, but she did not learn how to read until her teenage years. As a teenager, Silva nearly died from hepatitis and malaria -- this was her first brush with death. She was able to persevere by leaving the jungle and entering into the city, Christian Post reported.

While living in the city, she was rescued by Catholic clerics who taught her how to read. She later became a student of "Liberation Theology." Silva later went on to become a teacher, an ecologist, and then an environmental activist, the Christian Post reported. She later became the youngest person ever elected to Brazil's senate at the age of 36. Silva became Minister of the Environment.  

During Silva's rising political life, she was appointed a federal cabinet minister. She later left the job because she argued that the laws did not benefit the Amazon forest, her home, the Christian Post reported. By 2010, Silva shockingly won 20 percent of the votes in a national election running as a "third way" candidate. While Silva had no chance of winning, it was her stance on environmental issues that drew attention.

Silva's second brush with death influenced a change in her religion. Silva's second time dealing with death came when she was exposed to heavy metal poisoning. This came soon after she was elected and after that Silva became an Evangelical Christian.

Not everything was a success for Silva. Silva later formed her popular Ecologist party, "Rede Sustentabilidade" or Rede-Sustainability Network. But the country's electoral court blocked the registration of her party citing that the party was unable to make the minimum number of signatures required for it to be registered, Eye on Latin America reported.

Silva, along with her party, came together with the socialist party "Partido Socialista Brasileiro," or PSB, to join in on the presidential elections. Both parties' collaboration was based on a common social and economic reform.

Silva had served as Minister of the Environment for the former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. This was between 2003 and 2010, Eye on Latin America reported. With Marina Silva's party and influence, she threw her support by then party leader Eduardo Campos. Marina Silva stated, "I arrive at a party with its own candidate".

Tragedy struck the party with Silva at the center of it -- this was Silva's third brush with death. Campos died in a plane crash. On Aug. 13, Campos was traveling in his executive jet, a Cessna, on his way to a day of rallies for the party. The plane came down in a thick cloud in the port city of Santos, The Economist reported. It killed Campos including seven other passengers on board. Silva was scheduled to be on that flight.  

Through tragedy Silva rose. According to recent polls, Silva is now neck and neck with Brazil's current president and leading candidate Dilma Rousseff at 34 percent. In third place was Aécio Neves with 15 percent, Time reported. By a second round of polling numbers Silva was 50 percent and Rousseff was 40 percent. Rousseff's Workers' Party (PT) has been running Brazil since 2003.

One political scientist calls Silva's rise a "phenomenon."

"It is a public-opinion phenomenon ... an epidemic," Jairo Nicolau said, a political scientist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. "This is the first time this happened in a presidential election," Time reported.

Not everything is perfect with the Ecologist and Evangelical Silva. Silva is known to have conservative views and opinions on abortion, as well as gay marriage. Silva insists however that she backs civil unions for same-sex couples, Yahoo! News reported. The problem might be with the wording of "civil unions."

Silva released a detailed political plan-nearly a 260 page document- that had contained a chapter titled "Entitled Citizenship and Identities." In it, there was a pledge to directly support any proposals that defended civil marriage. Silva later revised it citing that that section needed more "clarification," Yahoo! News reported. The new version read Silva will "defend rights relating to civil unions between same-sex couples."

Silva claims that under her program that she will defend the rights of the GLBT community. Gay, lesbians and transgender people often suffer from violent persecution in Brazil.

The previous document and its terminology of "civil unions" intimated that same-sex couples had less rights than heterosexual couples. For instance, a surviving partner of the deceased does not receive any benefits to the rights of estate inheritance, Yahoo! News reported. This might undermine Silva's platform, and it could change her outlook from becoming Brazil's first "poor, black" president, into something else.  

Silva cites that her religious influence will help Brazil. She attributes her Catholic education for backing a lay state of Brazil.

"We are committed to the defense of the lay state, defence of personal freedom and the respect of religious freedom. The lay state is there to defend the interests of all, the interests of those who believe or do not, independent of their social standing or sexual orientation," Silva said.