ALMA — Alma College seniors George Amoako, of Accra, Ghana; Noah Festerling, of Allegan, Mich.; and Taylor Neeb, of Weidman, Mich., are the 2024 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 honoring student academic achievement on Thursday, April 4, at the Wright Leppien Opera House in downtown Alma. Read more about each nominee:

George Amoako

In his four years at Alma, George Amoako has pushed himself to embody the mission of Alma College, while lifting up classmates to do the same. A biochemistry major, Amoako has made academic presentations at the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute’s Perrigo seminar and the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting and World Congress, among other events. He has served as a teaching assistant and tutor in chemistry and calculus for three years, including six consecutive terms as a chemistry TA. He has participated in the Alma CORE program seminar, the iGEM team and the integrative physiology and health sciences honorary seminar.

Amoako has ingrained himself in the campus and Alma communities through extracurricular involvement as a First-Year Guide, Chapel house manager, student ministry coordinator and resident assistant for the Julius Chatman Living Learning Community. He is a member of the Premed Club and current president of the International Club.

Amoako’s influence has been felt beyond campus through his deep involvement with Alternative Breaks, where he serves as secretary and site leader. He has participated in Alternative Breaks locally and out of state in Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida, Texas.

“George’s many and varied activities point to a single focus; support of his fellow human beings,” wrote a member of the Alma College faculty in support of Amoako’s candidacy. “This ranges from supporting students struggling in their academic work, to mentoring those with whom he lives in the residence halls, to providing service in the local and broader communities as they address critical economic and infrastructural challenges.”

Noah Festerling

Noah Festerling has played a role in a diverse array of campus organizations, including athletics, music, spiritual life and fraternity/sorority life, and diligently worked to improve them all, while maintaining a strong academic record. A double-major in psychology and political science, Festerling has made presentations on both subjects at Honors Day in 2023 and 2024. He has been inducted into the political science honorary, Pi Sigma Alpha, and the psychology honorary, Psi Chi.

Festerling has played trumpet in the Kiltie Marching Band for four years. He was assistant section leader for three years and for one year served as marching and movement instructor. During this time he also played in the Kiltie Concert Band and has been a member of the men’s tennis team, serving as senior captain this past year. For the past three years, he was the technology coordinator at the Thomas Andison Chapel, running technology and support for all chapel events and facilitating trainings.

Festerling is the president of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity and vice president of the Interfraternity Council. He previously served as president of the Political Science Club and was elected as a Royal Scot at Homecoming 2023.

“Noah not only leads by example but always through timely, kindly, and effective support of those around him,” wrote a member of the Alma College faculty in support of Festerling’s candidacy. “He is warm, caring, and always approachable, and whether it is seeking help with statistics or on a presentation or understanding difficult material, Noah’s fellow students time and time again turn to him for help, finding him to be patient, careful, supportive and compassionate.”

Taylor Neeb

Taylor Neeb has used her Alma education to benefit the lives of students, staff and faculty, as well as vulnerable populations around the globe. Through the Posey Global Fellowship program, Neeb has traveled to Sierra Leone four times, as well as India and Tanzania. Among her many activities in Sierra Leone, Neeb launched Soul Salone, a project focused on the development of a post-partum screening project to lower maternal death rates of women.

Neeb is involved in a number of clubs and organizations on campus, highlighted by her role as Student Congress president this past year. She has served as a senior resident assistant, student representative on the Alma College Board of Trustees, vice president of the Premed Club, Center for College and Community Engagement assistant and lead mentor on the Model United Nations team.

A neuroscience major, Neeb is currently working on her senior thesis, which explores how menstruation experiences impact academic performance and how factors like access and belonging among cis-gendered and trans/non-binary students might impact these outcomes.

“(Neeb’s) intellect, sincere commitment to a career devoted to assisting the least advantaged members of the international community and demonstrated leadership skills embody those attributes most valued by Joel Barlow,” wrote a member of the Alma College faculty in support of Neeb’s candidacy.