Redefining the Classroom

Ignatowski Award recognizes a Coast Guard legacy

Posted: September 20th, 2013

LIFELONG LEARNER'S GIFT -- Robin and Paul Ignatowski award an educational grant created in the memory of their daughter, Amy, to Coast Guardsman Daniel Miller. The Amy Ignatowski Memorial Award assists Coast Guard members and their families with the cost of attending Lake Superior State University. Amy Ignatowski, a former LSSU student, died in 2008 while serving in the Coast Guard. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University, officials from US Coast Guard Base Sector Sault, and members of a local family have awarded the fourth Amy Ignatowski Memorial Award to LSSU student and Coast Guardsman Daniel Miller. The remembrance and presentation was held at LSSU's Lukenda Alumni House on Aug. 29.

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

The memorial fund assists Coast Guard members and their families with the cost of attending LSSU. USCG Fireman Daniel Miller, who hails from Detroit, Mich., is a junior majoring in fire science. The fund provides a stipend that can be applied to books and supplies.

Amy Ignatowski was an outgoing young lady who wore a perpetual smile that could light up a room. She loved to share her positive attitude. She had many friends and made new ones 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 Coast Guard.

"I've been told so much about Amy, I feel I've come to know her as a crewmate" said Miller. "This award helps me continue my university education in much the same way Amy had an urge to learn more from life."

Ignatowski attended LSSU just before joining the Coast Guard. She was attracted to the Coast Guard's lifesaving mission and the members' 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 2008.

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

"Fireman Daniel Miller is an extremely motivated young Coast Guardsman. We have what is called the Enlisted Person of the Quarter, in which any one of our enlisted in the sector can be nominated," said USCG Captain Steven Teschendorf, commander of Sector Sault Ste. Marie. "Miller was the first one I was able to recognize at the sector as the recipient. He came highly recommended for this distinguished award as well."

"This is a continued testament to the relationship built here in Sault Ste. Marie between LSSU and Sector Sault," added LSSU President Tony McLain. "Since beginning our partnership nearly four years ago, LSSU has had more than 80 personnel come through our courses -- all thanks to a phenomenal award created in honor of a fallen Coast Guard member, Amy."

The efforts of LSSU and Sector Sault education service officer, Brian Streichert, continue to see increased enrollment of Coast Guard members at the university.

"Out of four of the Ignatowski Award recipients, two have already graduated, and one is nearing completion of his degree," said Streichert. "Daniel Miller is within a few courses of finishing his degree. It speaks volumes of those being selected."

The Ignatowski Award stands with another continuing agreement – also in its fourth year - between LSSU and the Coast Guard that sets the rate for tuition the same as the Coast Guard Tuition Assistance Program for Coast Guard members and families.

The LSSU-Sector Sault partnership has also blossomed into a recently created intern/volunteer position. Fire science student Robert Perry worked this past summer with Sector Sault's planning office on risk assessment contingency planning. His analysis was part of a broader assessment of how regional local, state, and federal agencies coordinate and standardize emergency operating procedures with each other.

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 representatives of 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.