Ninth Ignatowski Award Keeps a Coast Guard Legacy Alive

IFELONG LEARNER'S GIFT – Coast Guard personnel from Sector Sault Ste. Marie join with Lake Superior State University President Rodney Hanley and family members of Amy Ignatowski to present a scholarship award created nine years ago in her memory. From left Amy’s maternal grandmother Patricia Julius; Amy’s parents Robin and Paul Ignatowski; 2018 Ignatowski Award recipient Heather Bertram, President Hanley, and Lt. Commander Amalia Boyer. 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 US Coast Guard. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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 ninth Amy Ignatowski Memorial Award to LSSU student Heather Bertram, wife of Sault native Paul Bertram, chief petty officer on the USCG Cutter Buckthorn, stationed out of the Sault.

Paul and Robin Ignatowski, both of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., created the award 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.

Amy Ignatowski was an outgoing young lady who wore a perpetual smile that could light up a room, and loved to share her positive attitude. 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.

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.

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.

“I am very proud to be a Coast Guard spouse and love that our daughter is growing up in a military family,” said Bertram in accepting the award. “Beyond our examples and values set as parents, I feel she is blessed to have the US Coast Guard as a model for her as she grows.”

Heather Bertram hails from California and met her husband, Paul, while he was stationed in St. Petersburg, Fla. In addition to working towards her LSSU bachelor’s degree in general studies, Bertram is pursuing her private pilot’s license, with the ultimate goal to fly for a major corporation. “I am very thankful for my supportive family that helps me to reach my goals along the way. I want my daughter to see that you can do anything you set your mind to,” stated Bertram. A mindset much like Amy Ignatowski.

Active Coast Guard members, reservists, and their dependents stationed at Sector Sault are eligible for the Ignatowski award. Candidates may be accepted as students in any course of study at LSSU, with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Active-duty Coast Guard members must have completed a minimum of six months of military service and reservists must be in drilling status. The award is non-renewable. However, past recipients are encouraged to reapply. Contact Sharon Dorrity at 906-635-2665 or Barbara Bardi at 906-635-3355 for more information.