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Michael J. Sagendorf Memorial Scholarship

The Michael J. Sagendorf Memorial Scholarship is awarded in honor of Michael Sagendorf, who passed away unexpectedly on January 19, 2006. At the time of his death, he was a Los Angeles Police Officer. He had previously worked as a deputy for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, and as an officer for the California Highway Patrol. Michael was passionate about two things: The law enforcement profession, and about equality. He learned to never be ashamed about who he was, and believed that any person, no matter what their gender, race or sexual orientation could, and ought to be given the chance to succeed in law enforcement. He never wanted nor expected special treatment, only equal treatment.


He was known as extremely caring and approachable. His impact on people’s lives was significant, making friends wherever he was and always going the extra mile to help someone in need. Early in Mike’s work with the CHP, he learned that the law enforcement community had a long way to go in terms of its treatment of gay people. He witnessed a situation where his training officer was very verbally abusive of a perceived gay person who had been arrested for DUI. He remembered how cavalier his training officer was about making very demeaning comments, since if the person were to complain, "they would simply deny it, right.” At that time in his life, Mike could barely come to grips with his own sexual orientation. That incident affected him greatly and eventually led to his leaving the CHP and seeking employment with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.


Above all, Michael recognized that in order to move ahead in professions such as law enforcement, firefighting and the military, gay people need to dedicate themselves to doing not just satisfactory deeds, but extraordinary deeds. He believed in never using sexual orientation as an excuse for mistakes or misconduct. He knew that eventually organizations like GSPOA, Protect and Defend, and GOAL would not need to exist, but in the meantime the most important thing people can do to further equality was to be a professional and exceptional member of the law enforcement, firefighting or military professions.


The scholarship is awared yearly to someone who has a commitment to diversity in one of these professions, and is passionate about pursuing excellence in one of these professions, as demonstrated by academic excellence, professional achievement, personal achievement, overcoming adversity, and demonstrated strong drive to excel in one of these great professions.  Each year a special committee of Michael's closest friends who are members of Protect and Defend take nominations and choose to provide up to two $500 awards or one $1,000 to awardee(s) who best exemplify Michael's ideals.


 Michael J. Sagendorf (11/22/69 – 01/19/06)

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