Magaux Mange on Denali

Surviving a war when your best friends don’t

August 23, 2019

After suffering a disabling head injury in an explosion in Iraq and then watching three friends die in a bomb strike in 2007, Margaux Mange lost all motivation for life.

Today, the Lakewood, Colo., native is set to continue keeping her friends’ memories alive and supporting many veterans to come.

Mange co-founded an organization called Mission Memorial Day, which focuses on bringing the public perception of the holiday back from barbecues and retail sales to a time to remember the people whose lives were lost.

“Depending on where Mission Memorial Day goes, I’ll either work with them or work for another nonprofit to help veterans coming home,” said Mange, who studies Public Service in the School of Public Affairs.

Margaux Mange, Ecuador
Student and military veteran Margaux Mange scrambles up the Pichincha volcano in Ecuador.

Overcoming disability, conquering Denali

Mange’s injury, sustained while serving five years as a military police officer, sabotaged her learning abilities. As a CU Denver student, she has found support through counselors, instructors and the Disability Resources & Services center.

“My memory recall is absolutely terrible,” said Mange, who has trouble finding words and writing papers and suffers from a headache 24/7.

“I think CU Denver holds you to higher standards, and I think I’m learning a lot more.”


Yet somehow the woman – who has summitted Denali, trekked to the South Pole and reconstructed a 66-mile “death march” in the Philippines – remains focused. And she’s glad she chose CU Denver, where she gets the support she needs.

“That was a big factor, just how much they were willing to work with me, and what kind of accommodations they would give me, and having an advisor I could go to for any kind of help if I wasn’t getting it from my teachers,” she said. “And so far, all of the teachers have been amazing, and they work with my disability. It’s mostly just being able to talk to the teachers and develop a relationship so that they understand: I’m just trying to do this the best I can.”

Aspiring to higher academic standards

Mange said she likes being able to take some classes online. “It’s nice having the time to just be at home. I can work better that way,” she said.

“Also, it’s a much more challenging school,” Mange said. “I think CU Denver holds you to higher standards, and I think I’m learning a lot more. I also like being so close. It’s a 14-minute drive.”

The university gave Mange credits for her military service. “That was just awesome.”