For most people, switching from nursing to welding as a major might seem an odd choice. For Mary Majchrzak of Ocean Springs, welding seemed like a natural thing to do because she has always enjoyed working with her hands to complete do-it-yourself projects. “I’ve always been into things like woodworking and working on my Harley, so I’ve never been afraid to jump in and try things I haven’t before.”
It was actually her DIY penchant that led her to taking welding classes. “I needed to weld a piece in a project I was working on. I checked out the types of classes I could take and ended up falling love with welding in the process.” Now, she is set to graduate this summer.
“I know it is hard to believe that I would make such a big jump from science with nursing to this, but there is actually a lot of science in welding.”
She has proven her talent with the science part of welding by winning first place in Welding Sculpture at the state SkillsUSA competition held in March. She will be competing at nationals in June.
“Different metals react to different levels of heat in different ways,” she said. “And you can do different things with different metals. That’s what I like, figuring it out.”
She made a bouquet of roses in a vase for her welding sculpture. Each flower is intricate and lovely. The rose stems are exact as is the vase.
“I was very proud of what I’ve made for my first attempt at sculpture. I got a lot of help from my instructor in what metals to use for what, temperatures, techniques. It has truly been a learning process.”
Along with the sculpture itself, she had to present a portfolio that showed the work in progress on the sculpture as well as notes on how she completed the process.
“It was sort of a grueling process to put the book together,” she said. “But I love scrapbooking, too, so I also really enjoyed it.”
She said the decision to enter the contest was sort of last minute. “I am the president of the SkillsUSA club on campus and I discovered that no one was planning to enter. I just knew that couldn’t happen and I ended up choosing the sculpture category. I’m glad I did.”
Majchrzak, originally from Vermont, ended up in Mississippi because her husband, Tyler, is in the Seabees. She actually rode her Harley down from Vermont when she moved here in 2013 (her husband was already on the Coast by the time she made the trip).
“I guess you could say that I’m non-traditional in my approach to things,” she said. “I’m also an overachiever. I believe in doing things myself rather than getting someone else to do it. I think that is why welding is a great occupation for me. It fits my personality well and goes to prove what I always say: ‘Anything is possible if you try hard enough.’”