Paula Axinte – ‘Alexandru Ignat’ Memorial Scholarship

memoria in aeterna

ALEXANDRU IGNAT (b. August 17, 1919- d. April 30, 1999)


Through his life and his deeds, Alexandru Ignat perfectly fits the ideal of the kind of apostole which the great Romanian thinker and former Minister of Education, Spiru Haret, imagined: a great intellectual, leaving his rural roots for schooling, only to return to his native land to fulfill his destiny and complete a circle by lifting the Romanian peasant out of poverty, misery and ignorance.

Alexandru Ignat’s merits are even greater considering his work took place during the dark years of a totalitarian regime when he had to bridge great barriers and endure many hardships to achieve his goals.

Born in the Moldavian village of Prisacani on August 17, 1919, he was the eldest of four children of Petru and Ecaterina Ignat. After finishing secondary school in his native village, he was forced to stop his education in order to help his parents run the family farm. His sacrifice gave his three younger siblings, a boy and two girls, the possibility of continuing their studies in the city of Iasi.

On February 15, 1941, during the Second World War, he was enlisted as a corporal in the 13th Division ‘Dorobanti’ where he served his country. Unfortunately, not long after, he was severely wounded and was honorably discharged after losing his left eye. For his actions and courage he was decorated with the ‘Sacrificiul Credincios’ Medal, 1st class.

After discharge, Alexandru Ignat returned to his native village and married Natalia Axinte, with whom he had two children, Mariana and Virginia. During this time he earned his living working for the town hall, first at the village infirmary, then as a postman until 1952; he always carried the nostalgic notion that he had never fulfilled his biggest dream, that of continuing his studies.

The materialization of his wish begins in 1952 when he had the chance to finish high school over the course of two years, in an accelerated program. Upon completion, despite being married and with two young children, he took and passed the entrance exam for higher education. Four years later he graduated from the oldest university in Romania, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, with a Bachelor’s of Science. His will, tenacity and love of studies helped him while he was away from home. He was able to overcome precarious financial means and other barriers and to graduate in 1958. Like the true apostle described by Spiru Haret, he returned to his village after graduation and taught Biology and Chemistry.

His seriousness, conscienciousness and passion did not go unseen and in 1960 Alexandru Ignat was named head Principal over three schools until his retirement in 1980. He served the school system with love and responsibility, always conscious of the importance that education and instruction has on students’ lives. He understood that being a teacher was not only for eight hours a day, but that it was a lifestyle. Together with the mayor at the time, Mihai Gafita, they drafted a daring and unprecedented project: the building of a new school with local money and labor, without help from the state. Barring the hardships of convincing authorities and even fellow citizens, Alexandru Ignat had the gift of persistence and never gave up. During his 20 year tenure, he helped build a school with 8 classroms, a gymnasium, a science laboratory and other annexes relying only on the voluntary financial contribution of the locals. The example set in Prisacani followed suit in the neighboring villages of Macaresti and Moreni.

Besides being a leader, Alexandru Ignat is also remembered as a teacher of valor. Realizing that quality education can only be accomplished with qualified teachers, he became preoccupied with gathering the best possible teachers at all levels. Out of the teachers with exceptional merits from the years 1960 to 1965, the following should be mentioned: Ana Catrina, Eugenia Dragan, Gorea Sofia, Gheorghe Stoian, Miss Petrila, Dumitru Bahrim, Mihai Cocus, Valeria Nicola, Alexandru Alexandrescu, Rodica Gorea, the Gorea family, the Petrescu family, Ortansa Durbaca. Of course, the list of following years continues with other devoted teachers, but it was this core team that first raised the Prisacani school to one of the best in the rural areas.

Retirement did not mean Alexandru Ignat retired from public service. After 1989, he became fiercely involved with rights of war veterans and was especially concerned with filing pension applications for veterans and widows of veterans, as well as with compiling a list of soldiers and officers from Prisacani that had fallen for their country during the two world wars.

Treasured and estemeed by his fellow citizens, Alexandru Ignat, aged 77, was elected mayor of Prisacani in 1996. It was indeed a coronation of his multiple merits. On his agenda as mayor he had several objectives: handing back property deeds confiscated by the communists in the 1950s, rebuilding the school in Moreni, rebuilding the townhall and extending telephone lines to all households.

He died on April 30th 1999, following a myocardial infarction. He truly lived his life to the fullest.

For his complex and exceptional personality, his selfless service to others, his honesty and perserverence in energetically applying ideas, Alexandru Ignat belongs in the honor book of Prisacani.

To honor and cherish his memory, his family is happy to provide this scholarship. He would have surely approved of this NGO and would have loved to be part of it as its high ideals match his own.

Paula Axinte is an eighth grader at the Prisacani School of Arts and Crafts. She comes from a hardworking family, but with limited financial possibilities. Paula has proved to be a very conscientious student:

First Prize (first in her class) grades I through VII

‘Mentiune’- Religious Studies Olympics- County level- sixth grade

‘Mentiune’- Geography Olympics – County level- eight grade

Participant at Romanian language Olympics- eighth grade

First prize- Christmas in the eyes of the children-Iasi, 2006

Paula Axinte next to her father (left) and Religious Studies teacher, Georgiana Nita (right).

Paula Axinte