Redefining the Classroom

Ignatowski Award recognizes a Coast Guard legacy

Posted: September 1st, 2012

ALL FOR AMY -- Lake Superior State University officials, members of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault, and the Ignatowski family of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., gather with remembrances of Amy Ignatowski to award an educational grant to LSSU student Miranda Fortenberry. Paul and Robin Ignatowski created the award after Amy's death while she was serving in the Coast Guard. From left are Ward Cox (Amy 's uncle); Amy's borther Stephen Ignatowski; parents Robin and Paul Ignatowski; Paul's mother Mary Dykehouse; LSSU geology professor emeritus Lew Brown, who wrote the Fortenberry letter of recommendation; Robin and Ward’s mother Patricia Julius; LSSU President Tony McLain; USCG Captain Joseph McGuiness, Sector Sault Sainte Marie commanding officer; Senior Chief J. Dale, Sector Sault Sainte Marie senior enlisted officer; award recipient Miranda Fortenberry; her friend and fellow LSSU student, Andrea Kerr; and Sector Sault Ste. Marie Education Service Officer Brian Streichert. (LSSU photo by John Shibley)

A print-resolution photo that runs with the caption above can be found by clicking here.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University, officials from U.S. Coast Guard Base Sector Sault, and a local family have awarded the third Amy Ignatowski Memorial Award to LSSU student Miranda Fortenberry. The remembrance and presentation was held on the in LSSU's Lukenda Alumni House on Aug. 16.

Paul and Robin Ignatowski, both of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., created the award a little more than three years ago after the loss of their daughter, Amy, who was killed in May 2008 while serving with the Coast Guard in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The memorial fund assists Coast Guard members and their families with the cost of attending Lake Superior State University. The year's recipient, Miranda Fortenberry, is a senior in business administration-management whose husband, Chad Fortenberry, serves on the cutter Katmai Bay.

The award provides a stipend that can be applied to the cost of supplies and books during the course of an academic year.

Those who knew Amy Ignatowski knew a young lady with a very outgoing personality. She wore a perpetual smile that could light up a room, and loved to share her positive attitude. She had many life-long friendships and made new friends everywhere she went. Ignatowski thought friendship to be very important, and had the utmost loyalty toward her friends, among whom she counted the many men and women with whom she served with in the United States Coast Guard.

"This award is incredibly humbling," said Fortenberry. "It is an honor to be acknowledged by a fellow Coast Guard family that openly shares a love for life. Amy had an amazing spirit that is easy to admire. I pray that I may inspire so many as she has."

Ignatowski attended Lake Superior State University just before joining the Coast Guard. She was attracted to the Coast Guard's lifesaving mission, and their can-do attitude made the service a perfect fit for her.

Her assignments included WAGB-11 Polar Sea, aboard which she crossed the Arctic Circle, earning her “Blue Nose” certificate. She served briefly at USCG Air Station Humboldt Bay before attending aviation school at Elizabeth City, N.C., for Aircraft Maintenance Technician training. She graduated with excellent scores and another group of friends.

A warm climate and a desire to fly in the HH-65 helicopter influenced her choice of Corpus Christi for her first air station assignment as an aviation maintenance technician (AMT). She was working on earning her wings at the time of her death in May of 2008.

Air Station Corpus Christi Command awarded Amy her wings posthumously, giving her the title of Petty Officer Amy Lynn Ignatowski, AMT3.

"We are so grateful that Miranda applied and won the award," said USCG Captain Joseph McGuiness, commander of Sector Sault Sainte Marie. "She exemplifies the kind of commitment and dedication that we see so much of in the Coast Guard. We're sure that she and Amy would have found kindred spirits in one another."

"I feel like an honorary member of the Ignatiowski family and the Coast Guard," added LSSU President Tony McLain. "We've worked so closely to open up a university education to Coast Guard members and their families, in no small part to Amy's memory."

The efforts of LSSU and Sector Sault education service officer, Brian Streichert, continue to see increased enrollment of Coast Guard members at the University. An agreement between LSSU and the Coast Guard sets the rate for tuition the same as the Coast Guard Tuition Assistance Program for Coast Guard members and families. Since 2009, nearly 60 Coast Guard students have taken more than 170 courses in various areas of study.

Ignatowski Award candidates must be accepted as students in any course of study at LSSU, with at least a GPA of 2.0. Active duty Coast Guard members must have completed a minimum of six months of military service and reservists must be in drilling status.

Active Coast Guard members, reservists, and their dependents stationed at Sector Sault can fill out an application and questionnaire that is then submitted to a selection committee composed of a member of the Ignatowski family, a USCG Education Service Officer, a representative of the LSSU Foundation, and a representative of the USCG-Sector Sault.

The award is non-renewable. However, past recipients will be encouraged to reapply.

Run a Web search on "LSSU Foundation" for more information on the Ignatowski Award or to make a donation, or contact Sharon Dorrity at 906-635-2665 or Brian Streichert at 906-635-3355.


CONTACTS: John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315; Brian Streichert, Sector Sault Ste. Marie ESO, e-mail, 635-3355; Sharon Dorrity, LSSU Foundation Office, e-mail, 635-2665.