Alma College seniors Kelsee Brinklow of Chelsea, Marissa Nivison of Midland and Cameron Spitzfaden of Charlotte are the 2017 nominees for the Barlow Trophy, Alma’s most prestigious award for a graduating senior.
Established in 1949 by Dr. Joel Barlow, a 1929 honors graduate of Alma College, the award will be announced at the Honors’ Day closing reception on Thursday, April 6.
The award recognizes academic achievement for students in the top 10 percent of their class as well as contributions to campus and community. The Barlow winner is determined by a vote of Alma’s Student Congress and faculty.
Kelsee Brinklow has combined intellectual curiosity with campus leadership involvement during her four years at Alma College. A secondary education major, she plans to pursue a career as a history and social studies teacher. She is a member of the Phi Sigma Alpha and Phi Alpha Theta honors societies in political science and history.
On campus, Brinklow has connected with many students as a resident assistant in Newberry Hall since the beginning of her sophomore year and as a senior resident assistant — supervising all RAs in Newberry Hall — during her senior year. In addition, her work as a student admissions representative has allowed her to share her passion for Alma College with prospective students.
She joined the student organization Literacy Beyond Borders during her first year on campus and served as the group’s secretary, a position she held until her senior year. She was one of two members to receive a Posey Global Fellowship scholarship to travel to Ghana to promote literacy and teach in a local primary school. The experience fueled her passion for preserving indigenous cultures and helping others to better understand their value.
Brinklow also was a member of the Public Affairs Institute, sang with the Alma College Choirs and volunteered in local schools with the Kids’ Night Out and Reading Buddies programs.
Marissa Nivison has devoted much of her Alma experience to scientific study and research both on campus and internationally while also serving in student leadership roles and community volunteer activities. A psychology major, she plans to continue her education in a doctoral program and pursue a career researching parent-child relationships.
Her international internship experiences have taken her to Europe with funding assistance from the Posey Global Fellowship Program. During an internship at Leiden University in the Netherlands, she worked on a project examining dopamine’s effects on positive parenting. In London, she assisted in a major study coordinated by Queen Mary University investigating resilience in Syrian War refugee children.
On campus, she has served as a research assistant in the e-STEM Cooperative Research Experience Program and as the student lab manager for the psychology department, assisting in studies that examine family relationships. She also has served as a teaching assistant, tutor and president of the Psi Chi psychology honors society and the Psychology Club.
Nivison also has participated in the Alma Middle School’s After School Program, mentoring and tutoring children ages 8-14. In addition, she has been a First Year Guide to new students and a member of Active Minds and the Hispanic Coalition.
Cameron Spitzfaden has balanced a commitment to academic discovery and scientific research with student employment responsibilities, residence life leadership and performance in the arts. He is a double major in physics and mathematics with a minor in theatre and dance.
He has pursued multiple opportunities to conduct scientific research during his four years at Alma. Working alongside faculty sponsors, he has helped design and fabricate a robotic prosthetic hand. With funding assistance from the Venture Grant program, he studied biomolecular sensing during a summer research project at the University of Kentucky. His current senior research focuses on computer simulations of protein folding in mad-cow disease.
To help cover his educational experiences, Spitzfaden has selected on-campus jobs that directly impact the campus community. These positions include residence hall assistant, information technology help desk assistant, resident computer consultant, physical computing teaching assistant, physics and chemistry tutor, and French language teaching assistant. In his information technology roles, he has resolved student technology issues on a nearly daily basis.
He also has regularly contributed to the artistic vibrancy of Alma’s campus, performing multiple times each year as a member of the Alma College Dance Department. He holds a leadership role in Pi Delta Chi, the dance honorary that promotes the study of dance to the campus and community through workshops and performances.