ALMA — Alma College seniors Lainie Ettema of Howell; Audrey Plouffe of Flint; and Gavin Swiecicki of Bay City, are the 2023 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 recognizes academic achievement for students in the top 10 percent of their class as well as contributions to campus and community.
The Barlow winner, determined by a vote of Alma’s Student Congress and faculty, will be announced at a special event commemorating past Barlow Trophy recipients on Thursday, April 6 at the Wright Leppien Opera House in downtown Alma.
Lainie Ettema is involved in research, presidential leadership and the production of art work that has challenged conventional modes of thinking, on top of a rigorous academic schedule. Ettema, an art and design major with a minor in women’s and gender studies, has been accepted to the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Florida and offered the Graduate School Fellowship, allocated to UF’s most competitive students. She is the former editor-in-chief of Pine River Anthology and president of the Kappa Pi international art honorary.
In 2022, Ettema was one of three recipients of the Ronald O. Kapp Honors Day Prize for her outstanding Honors Day presentation in the humanities. She has also presented research at the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters annual conference.
Ettema has exhibited artwork in a variety of media at many shows on campus, including two Art Prize competitions and the annual student show at the college’s Flora Kirsch Beck Gallery. She has also served as a painting and drawing teaching assistant, as well as the director of figure drawing co-op.
A member of the Alma College faculty who recommended Ettema for the award wrote: “She is respected among all her peers and art faculty at Alma College. She has [a] tremendous work ethic, and through her service and community engagement, she has contributed consistently and meaningfully at Alma College.”
Audrey Plouffe has pursued a wide range of diverse interests while excelling in academics, shows leadership through their involvement in student organizations and pursuing research opportunities. Plouffe, an integrative physiology and health science (IPHS) major with minors in English and dance, has been admitted to the University of Michigan-Flint’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy program.
Plouffe is the current president of the Pi Delta Chi Dance Honorary, current vice president of the IPHS Honorary and a member of the Sigma Tau Delta international English honorary. They have worked as a tutor for courses across multiple departments for three years, and for the past two years have worked as supplemental instruction leader for Anatomy and Anatomy and Physiology II courses.
Plouffe has presented research at the Experimental Biology 2022 conference and the Michigan Physiological Society’s annual meeting in 2022. They expect to present at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference and to have multiple publications completed this upcoming summer.
A member of the Alma College faculty who recommended Plouffe for the award wrote: “In my two decades of higher education teaching, I have never met a more talented, precocious and intellectual polymath as Audrey.”
Gavin Swiecicki, a biochemistry major with minors in mathematics and biology, has combined outstanding academic excellence with involvement in the arts, athletics and science departments. Among his activities on campus in and out of the classroom during his time at Alma have been serving as manager of the college greenhouse and as supplementary instructor for chemistry courses.
Swiecicki has played in the Kiltie Marching Band four years and served as marching basics instructor for two, along with playing in the jazz band and concert band. He is a member of the swimming and diving team and has participated in the ASPIRE and iGEM programs. He has completed two independent research projects in the sciences and presented at Kapp Honors Day.
A member of the Alma College faculty who recommended Swiecicki for the award wrote: “Gavin Swiecicki is a dedicated student, musician and athlete with a very professional approach. He is a brilliant young man in every respect.”