LSSU junior Swanson, a Coast Guard reservist, receives school’s Ignatowski Award

Madelyn Swanson

SAULT STE. MARIE — Lake Superior State University junior business administration major and U.S. Coast Guard reservist Madelyn Swanson has received the 2020-21 Amy Ignatowski Memorial Award from LSSU.

The $500 award is bestowed annually to an LSSU student who is an active Coast Guard member or reservist or the dependent of one stationed at the Sault Ste. Marie sector. The recipient is chosen on the recommendation of a selection committee that includes Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie senior command, a member of the Ignatowski family, and a representative from the LSSU Foundation Office.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Swanson, the daughter of LSSU alumni Tom ’97 and Stacey Swanson ’95. “Being able to attend school while being in the Coast Guard has opened doors to different opportunities for me. Like Amy Ignatowski, I was drawn to the Coast Guard’s life-saving mission. It is an honor to receive an award that is dedicated to someone who showed hard work and dedication to school and to serving their country.”

The Amy Ignatowski Memorial Award fund was created by Paul and Robin Ignatowski in 2010, following the loss of their daughter, Amy, who had attended LSSU before enlisting in the Coast Guard and who was killed in May 2008 while serving in Corpus Christi, Texas. She was pursuing a helicopter license at the time of her death and was awarded her wings posthumously.

“Even with the obstacles brought on by a pandemic, it is important to keep this award alive in honor of Amy,” said Cpt. Anthony R. Jones, commander of the Coast Guard Sault Ste. Marie Sector. “Furthermore, it is just as important for the recipient to embody the strength and determination needed to persevere in the face of such obstacles. That is why we are honored to have BM3 [Boatswain’s Mate Third Class] Swanson as the winner of the Amy Ignatowski Memorial Award.”

Swanson said that she enlisted in the Coast Guard Reserve to challenge herself mentally and physically and that she aligns with the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty. After graduating from LSSU, Swanson said that she is considering enrolling in the U.S. Coast Guard Officer Candidate School or enlisting in full-time active duty.

Besides meeting Coast Guard qualifications, candidates for the Amy Ignatowski Memorial Award, who can tackle any course of study at LSSU, must have a minimum 2.0 GPA and must answer an essay on the topic: What does it mean to live life? Swanson’s response, in part: “You live life by enjoying everything around you: counting your blessings while you have them. Living life is working hard toward your achievements, setting goals for yourself, and having fun while you accomplish whatever is given.”

“As an Army veteran, I’m proud that Madelyn Swanson represents the best of not only our campus but also our nation,” said LSSU President Dr. Rodney S. Hanley. “LSSU was created on a former Army barracks to educate World War II veterans, and like her predecessors, she is succeeding at school and giving back to the country. I can’t think of a better Laker to signify our vision statement of identifying potential, enabling success, and developing students to excel locally and nationally.”

About Lake Superior State University: Lake Superior State University is one of Michigan’s most affordable public universities with One-Rate at Lake State tuition for all.

Surrounded by three Great Lakes, LSSU is an unsurpassed location for research, innovation, and real-world experiences. Signature programs include fisheries and wildlife management, engineering, nursing, criminal justice, business, robotics engineering and fire science.

In 2019, Lake State launched the first cannabis chemistry program in the nation. LSSU also was the first campus nationwide to offer an accredited four-year fire science program; it is one of three in the U.S. LSSU was the first campus nationwide to offer an accredited four-year robotics engineering technology program and is the only university nationwide to offer undergraduate education in industrial robotics.

LSSU also offers several certificate programs, including a one-year culinary arts chef certificate at its 5,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art Les Cheneaux Culinary School in Hessel. Regional centers are in Escanaba, Iron Mountain, and Petoskey.

LSSU opened its newest location in St. Helen in 2020.

Additional LSSU hallmarks include the annual Banished Words List that receives worldwide media coverage and a student-run Atlantic salmon hatchery at its renowned Center for Freshwater Research and Education.

LSSU’s NCAA Division I hockey team has won five national championships; men compete in five other sports and women in six at the Division II level.

Lake State was founded in 1946 in Sault Ste. Marie, the oldest city in Michigan (1668), on the site of the former U.S. Army’s Fort Brady.

Lake State has approximately 2,000 undergraduate students, with 88 percent coming from Michigan, and with every county represented. Ninety percent of full-time students receive financial aid.


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