A Family Legacy

Tonia Fortner creates the Prescott STEM Scholarship for Women

The day after Christmas 1978, Tonia Fortner, her then-husband Tom Fortner (’92, PC) and their two young children drove cross-country to Prescott, Ariz., for Tom to attend Embry-Riddle’s recently opened western campus.

“The campus was so small, there wasn’t even a place to eat lunch,” recalls Tonia, who now serves on the Prescott Campus Board of Visitors.

At the time, the campus had fewer than 300 students and operated out of a cluster of block buildings. Today, it boasts a student body of more than 2,400, 25 degree programs, and has added several new buildings including the new STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Education Center opening in 2017.

In 2004, Tonia witnessed her daughter, Marquita Fortner Pfannenstiel (’04, PC), cross the stage to accept her Embry-Riddle diploma, becoming a Legacy Graduate (child of an alumnus). Pfannenstiel is now a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve and a market group manager in revenue management for Delta Air Lines.

“I have watched the evolution of our campus, its instructors and our students, and I am thrilled and impressed,” Tonia says.

In a tangible expression of her support and enthusiasm for the Prescott Campus, Tonia recently established the Tonia Knight Fortner Women and STEM Endowed Scholarship, which is funded in part by a planned gift.

“As a member of our board of visitors, Tonia Fortner provides advice, counsel and support to our leadership,” says Prescott Campus Chancellor Frank Ayers. “The STEM women’s scholarship she has created will ensure many more bright young ladies, like her daughter Marquita, will attend Embry-Riddle and go on to great careers of significance in the STEM fields.”