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Four Students Receive Inaugural Clifton Strengths Institute Awards

Mark Pogue’s Legacy Honored with New Award
Four Students Receive Inaugural Clifton Strengths Institute Awards
Clifton Strengths Institute Recognition Ceremony award winners from left to right: Elaina Bailey, Audrey Erker, Sierra Hassel and Alyson Lenz

Mark Pogue committed his life to help others through strengths. The inaugural Clifton Strengths Institute (CSI) Recognition Ceremony participants honored Pogue, former director of the CSI who died of cancer in the summer of 2018, by presenting the first-ever Mark Pogue Award. The institute also recognized Outstanding Builder and Outstanding Coach recipients during the virtual event.

Elaina Bailey, a senior management major from Kansas City, received the Mark Pogue Award presented by Mark’s wife, Jami, and daughters, Paige and Reilly. The family emphasized the special meaning of the award due to Bailey’s student relationship with Mark.

“It’s special because you actually knew my dad,” Paige told Bailey at the ceremony. “In the years to come, people won’t know him in that way so this is extra special because of your personal relationship.”

Bailey explained how Mark’s impact lives on through her relationships with others.

“Each day I wake up wanting to carry on his legacy,” said Bailey, who is also in Nebraska Business Honors Academy. “Mark created a family of great leaders. The thing I appreciate most was his honesty.”

Early in her time at the CSI, Bailey gave a presentation to Mark to assess the engagement level of a company’s employees. She learned a lesson about being candid.

Elaina Bailey received the inaugural Mark Pogue Award during a ceremony held on Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elaina Bailey received the inaugural Mark Pogue Award and the Outstanding Builder Award during a ceremony held on Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mark said, ‘Cut the bull Elaina and get to the point.’ It was in that moment I realized the truth hurts, but needs to be shared. Mark believed in sharing problems upfront and finding a way to overcome them together. Every time I consult, I try to be more like Mark. I strive to be fearless,” said Bailey, who also received one of two Outstanding Builder Awards.

The Outstanding Builder Award honors students in the Clifton Builders program with innate entrepreneurial talents, who tackle challenges to create change where others might back away. The two recipients included Bailey and Sierra Hassel, a senior accounting major from Johnston, Iowa.

Nominees lauded Hassel for an infectious humility and passion that made them want to be on her team, and her drive to create meaningful change. The former Husker gymnast, also used her Builder strengths serving as vice president of the student-athlete advisory committee.

“When I first worked with Mark Pogue, I identified my dream to become an athletic director,” said Hassel, who also fought to destigmatize issues of mental health on campus. “Four years later that’s still what I want to do. This summer I’m joining an NCAA forum where everyone is assigned to complete the CliftonStrengths so it’s all come full circle for me in the program.”

The two winners of the Outstanding Coaches Award included Audrey Erker, a juior business administration major from Omaha, Nebraska, and Alyson Lenz, a senior marketing and management major from Council Bluffs, Iowa. Strengths coaches serve as mentors to freshmen students in BSAD 111 to help them learn how to use their talents most effectively in school and beyond. Honorees received their award because of the ability to coach strengths with a developmental mindset aimed to assist others in leveraging their talents. Winners exceeded expectations in their work to advance strengths.

Erker helped build a strengths program for Nelnet by coaching more than 70 employees. She held a strengths workshop for her Gamma Phi Beta sorority and served as CSI student organization vice president.

“This program has given so much to others I know and me,” said Erker, who received recognition for being a focal point in helping others develop, grow and create change. “I try to talk to people about strengths all the time and apparently I’ve gotten to enough people they’re starting to feel the impact of what strengths coaching can do. I’m glad I’ve been able to help further the mission of the CSI.”

Lenz received the award for contributing to the strengths culture at Nebraska by sharing strengths daily and holding workshops at her Tri Delta sorority. One nominee praised Lenz for inspiring her to give back and become a strengths coach.

“The strengths program has been the highlight of my college experience,” said Lenz. “Every time I go into the CSI office it makes me happy to see everyone. I love helping students through coaching.”

Three plaques created to honor winners in each category will be on display in the CSI going forward.

Two other students recognized at the ceremony included Sydney McManamy, a senior management major from Sioux City, Iowa, and Rachel Olig, a senior business administration major from Omaha. Both received accolades for logging more than 100 hours of strengths coaching.

To learn more about CSI, visit:

Graduating Builders Graduating Coaches
Andrew Ruboyianes Addy Sellon
Brady Conant Allison Weber
Callie Pancoe Brandon Smith
Elaina Bailey Christy Cooper
Elizabeth Brake Claire Berman
Frances Munro Colby Reffert
Jared Jesske Devon Gottsch
Jordan De Spong Erica Eschliman
Lindsey Nelson Kylie Taylor
Macy Peregrine Macy Peregrine
Paige Pogue Maddy Sirois
Ross Grieb McKenzie Mason
Shannon Raitt Morgan Buehler
Sierra Hassel Rachel Olig
Spencer Hosch Regan Wesley
Sydney Lacher Reilly Pogue
Tanner Stalsberg Ryan Blum
Quincey Bernard Sophie Knoblauch
  Sydney McManamy
  Veronica Sanchez
Published: April 28, 2020