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Seventh Cohort of Clifton Builders Program Named

Clifton Strengths Institute Prepares Student Entrepreneurs to Make an Impact
Seventh Cohort of Clifton Builders Program Named
The Clifton Strengths Institute at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln welcomed 34 new students into the Clifton Builders Program. Students in the program select a Clifton Builders Management major or minor.

The Clifton Strengths Institute at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln selected 34 students for the seventh cohort of the Clifton Builders Program. Housed in the College of Business, the Clifton Builders program brings together students with high leadership and entrepreneurial potential and develops them to lead high-performance teams.

“We use three words to describe the Clifton Builders: stretch, disrupt and transform. We are intentional about helping students stretch and develop their unique strengths. Builders disrupt the status quo and work to make it better. They also transform their lives and the lives of those they lead and serve,” said Timothy Hodges, executive director of the Clifton Strengths Institute and assistant professor of practice in management.

The cohort-based program sets students up for success from day one, according to Kaitlin Ferris, assistant director of the Clifton Builders Program, fostering a close-knit community that promotes partnerships, collaboration and networking opportunities. Students within the program can declare either a Clifton Builders Management major or minor, and choose a track based on their interests of building businesses, teams or communities. They also work with their own personal strengths coach to further develop into successful leaders.

“Students are assigned a Gallup-certified strengths coach to learn how to develop and apply strengths for success. They also explore and define their interests in entrepreneurship, team building or community development,” she said.

Every Clifton Builder enrolls in a class called Building a Life for Impact (MNGT 324B), where they gain an advanced understanding of management and consulting for organizations to help improve business outcomes and employee engagement in the workplace. The project serves as one of the many hands-on learning opportunities builders encounter throughout the program.

“We don’t just present and discuss content in the classroom. We’re intentional about creating experiences where our students interact with business leaders – and each other – as they develop their own perspectives and plans for the future,” Hodges said.

Ferris explained how the work done in the program provides students a glimpse into the potential careers that await them after graduation.

“Builders gain insight into real-world marketing creativity, market analysis, as well as an ‘insider’s view’ of entrepreneurial creativity. With a curriculum designed exclusively for our Clifton Builders, they gain the tools to develop as leaders and knowledge that will impact the growth and success of future organizations,” she said.

Hodges shared how the program cultivates a winning mindset that benefits the builders in the future. After graduation, alumni have started their own businesses, pursued post-graduate degrees and worked for companies like JP Morgan Chase, Gallup and Kiewit.

“Our students gain confidence in who they are and what they can accomplish. We’re intentional about coaching them through challenges that occur in college and into great careers beyond their time on campus,” he said.

The program generally selects students of all majors in their first year, with courses beginning during the following fall semester. Applications for the Fall 2023 cohort are due by Friday, October 14. To apply or learn more about the Clifton Builders program, visit:

The 2022 cohort of Clifton Builders includes:


Bellevue: Baden Brumbaugh, sophomore economics and psychology major

Central City: Jade Erickson, sophomore Clifton Builders Management major

Columbus: Simon Schumacher, sophomore business administration major

Elkhorn: Leah Nordstrom, sophomore marketing major

Grand Island: Kelly Solis, sophomore business administration and Clifton Builders Management major

Gretna: Shelby Baker, junior studio arts major

Lincoln: Derek Branch, sophomore business administration major; Michael Endacott, sophomore computer science major; Conner Gokie, sophomore finance major; Chase Kavanaugh, sophomore accounting major; Audrey Krieger, sophomore marketing major; Naree Philavanh, sophomore marketing and Clifton Builders Management major; Claire Sobansky, sophomore Clifton Builders Management major; Makenna Stanton, sophomore Clifton Builders Management major; Teghan Sullivan, sophomore Clifton Builders Management major; Ethan Zaborowski, sophomore finance major

Omaha: Gage Bertucci, sophomore finance major

Rising City: Kira Pavlik, sophomore accounting major

Smithfield: Landon Andersen, sophomore accounting and finance major

Waverly: Lindsay Rickers, sophomore marketing major

Weeping Water: Jamison Twomey, junior marketing major


Scottsdale, Arizona: Samuel McCracken, sophomore business administration major

Englewood, Colorado: Evan Wilson, sophomore business administration major

Fort Collins, Colorado: Conor Maguire, sophomore business administration major

Longmont, Colorado: Jordan Westenbroek, sophomore accounting major

Wilmington, Delaware: Nathan Gaughan, sophomore finance major

Glen Carbon, Illinois: Braden Starck, junior finance major; Jack Wise, junior international business major

Shakopee, Minnesota: Carly Gorter, junior business administration major

Waconia, Minnesota: Hadleigh Sueker, sophomore Clifton Builders Management major

Lees Summit, Missouri: Garrett Smith, junior accounting and Clifton Builders Management major

Humboldt, South Dakota: Lydia Hoffman, junior finance major

Jefferson, South Dakota: Will Geary, sophomore finance major

Grafton, Wisconsin: Kate Aleknavicius, sophomore Clifton Builders Management major

Published: September 8, 2022