• 48°

Siroky meets goal: 100 countries, 7 continents, before 30

Machu Picchu in Peru looms in the background for Mel Siroky. (CONTRIBUTED)
Machu Picchu in Peru looms in the background for Mel Siroky. (CONTRIBUTED)
Mel Siroky and her fellow travelers enjoyed the isolated sections of the Great Wall of China. (CONTRIBUTED)
Mel Siroky and her fellow travelers enjoyed the isolated sections of the Great Wall of China. (CONTRIBUTED)

HUNTSVILLE – Melissa ‘Mel’ Siroky reached her lofty goal to visit 100 countries on all seven continents before turning 30.

The 29-year-old Australian immigrated to America in 2010 and moved to Huntsville in 2012 to work as a Space Camp counselor at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. “Kids come through the doors ‘a buzz’ with such enthusiasm,” she said.

Her Italian mother and Czech father immigrated to Australia. Mel was 11 when they visited Europe for a few months and she met extended family. “I was so fascinated by my aunts and uncles, buildings, landscape and culture, I vowed” to return. At 21, she toured throughout Europe.

Single, she travels alone and lodges in hostels or camps. “It’s rare you don’t end up with instant friends,” Siroky said.

Petra, for its construction and history, was one of her most interesting sites. At the Great Wall of China, her group drove from Beijing beyond the crowded tourist area to farmland. They hiked, “stumbling along its loose stones, sharing stories,” she said.

“Antarctica truly exposed me to sensory overload … beautiful white paradise with wildlife to match. The three-day journey from southern Argentina to the Antarctic Peninsula can be a bumpy ride,” Siroky said. “I left that trip better understanding who I am and how I want to proceed in my life.”

Along with traveling, Siroky has contributed to “treatment verification.” When she was 12, her father was diagnosed with leukemia. His treatments led to remission but also blindness and physical and emotional weakness. Five years later, he died.

Total body radiation caused his loss of sight. She decided to study physics to understand radiation interaction. For thesis research, she studied film dosimeters that gather information on dosage during patients’ radiation.

She reached calculations and processes for radiation during early treatments to avoid excess dosage. “My research was put into practice” and benefits breast cancer patients.

Although meeting her travel goal, Siroky isn’t finished with “new regions and countries” and “exploring America even further … and return to physics and oncology research.”

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