Mandie Majerus’ habit of posing challenges for herself started early, when as a girl growing up in Bozeman, she pinned a map of Antarctica to her wall and swore she’d get there someday.
“I didn’t know how it would happen, but I wanted it,” she said.
In the years since, Majerus has set and met many other goals, from skiing and climbing some of the world’s tallest mountains to becoming a successful physical therapist. Antarctica, though, remained on her to-do list.
Until five months ago, that is.
In September, Majerus traveled to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, to spend five months on the outpost’s medical team, helping South Pole researchers recoup after injuries and enjoying the often-below-zero summer weather.
“It’ll get to be like 25 degrees out, and we’re in short-sleeve shirts because it just feels like you’re baking,” Majerus said by phone from McMurdo.
Majerus, 34, graduated from Bozeman High in 1994 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in exercise science at Montana State University in 1998 and a master’s in physical therapy at the University of Montana. In 2001, she moved to Seattle to start her career.
The Antarctic opportunity came a couple years ago, when Majerus saw that the United States Antarctic Program needed medical staff members. She jumped at the chance, and after an extensive and extended application process, she finally made her way south in September.
“I think I did it for the adventure, basically to see what I was capable of handling on my own,” she said. “I just kind of like the challenge of not having all the amenities given to me.”
Her father, Don Majerus of Bozeman, said his daughter has seldom been one to choose the easy path.
“She wants to be challenged all the time,” he said. “I think Antarctica was kind of an unknown for her.”
Majerus credits Bozeman for giving her a love of adventure and her teachers at Bozeman High, MSU and UM for giving her the knowledge she’s needed to meet her self-set challenges.
“Even when I went out of state, I was always defending Montana,” she said. “People outside the state just think it’s pretty country and have no idea of the education you can get there.”
Majerus’ time in Antarctica ends next month, and she’s already looking forward to her next stop, the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where she’ll be working with some of America’s ski athletes.
After that? Majerus said she might look into another one of her long-time goals: a doctorate and a second career as a teacher.
“If you’ve got the seed of something in your mind, you need to hang onto it, treat it like a little candle, keep it burning,” she said.
On the Web: Majerus has written a blog about her time in Antarctica. It can be seen at http://mandieinantarctica.blogspot.com.
Do you or someone you know do something, enjoy something or own something that’s a little weird or off the beaten path? Send story ideas to Michael Becker at [email protected] or 582-2657.