34 students selected for Clifton Builders Program at Nebraska

· 4 min read

34 students selected for Clifton Builders Program at Nebraska

Institute prepares student entrepreneurs to make an impact
The 34 new Clifton Builders pose for a photo west of Howard L. Hawks Hall.
Murengezi Atali Benimana | Business
The Clifton Strengths Institute at Nebraska recently welcomed 34 new students into the Clifton Builders Program. The students learn how to build businesses, teams and communities while pursuing a Clifton Builders management major or minor.

The Clifton Strengths Institute at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has selected 34 students for the eighth cohort of the Clifton Builders Program.

Housed in the College of Business, the program brings together students with high leadership and entrepreneurial potential and develops them to lead high-performance teams. This year’s cohort brings strong influencing and relationship-building talents and a diverse set of majors.

“We use three words to describe the Clifton Builders: stretch, disrupt and transform,” said Tim Hodges, executive director of the Clifton Strengths Institute and assistant professor of practice in management. “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.”

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

“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,” Ferris said.

Every Clifton Builder enrolls in the course Building a Life for Impact, where they gain an advanced understanding of management and consulting for organizations to help improve business outcomes and employee engagement in the workplace. Another class offers hands-on experience in entrepreneurship.

“Builders gain insight into real-world marketing creativity, market analysis and an insider’s view of entrepreneurial creativity within their Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Organizations course taught by Dr. Samantha Fairclough,” Ferris said. “A program highlight for many students, this class enables students to showcase and sell products they designed at a Builder Showcase, with all proceeds going to a nonprofit of their choosing.”

Hodges shared how the program cultivates a winning mindset. After graduation, alumni have started their own businesses, pursued post-graduate degrees and worked for companies such as J.P. Morgan, Hudl, Gallup, Charles Schwab and Kiewit.

“We create experiences where our students interact with business leaders — and each other — as they develop their own perspectives and plans for the future,” Hodges said. “Our students gain confidence in who they are and what they can accomplish.”

The program selects students from any major in their first two years at the university, with courses beginning the following fall. Applications for the fall 2024 cohort are due by Oct. 13. To apply or learn more about the Clifton Builders program, click here.

The 2023 cohort of Clifton Builders, with their year in school and major(s), is:



  • Carli Bailey, sophomore, accounting


  • Delaney Huck, sophomore, business and law


  • Jack Thompson, sophomore, business administration


  • Grace Timm, junior, agribusiness


  • Hannah Hurt, junior, Clifton Builders management


  • Elise Estudillo, sophomore, accounting


  • Seth Daup, junior, computer engineering and finance, Raikes School


  • Carter Goff, junior, finance


  • Joshua Argue, junior, Clifton Builders management
  • Kyra Boesiger, junior, marketing
  • Emersyn Liljehorn, sophomore, Clifton Builders Management
  • Jadyn Maddox, sophomore, international business and Spanish
  • Wolfgang Sturm, sophomore, marketing
  • Mitchell West, sophomore, marketing


  • Connor Carpenter, sophomore, accounting


  • Michael Barrett, sophomore, finance
  • Charlie Burt, sophomore, business administration
  • Josh Ferguson, junior, finance
  • Josie Golka, sophomore, international business
  • Diya Kishore, sophomore, management
  • Ava Stanek, sophomore, accounting and management
  • Christian Thomas, sophomore, finance
  • Charlie Trofholz, sophomore, finance
  • Palmer Wright, junior, biological sciences

Platte Center:

  • Noah Koch, sophomore, accounting and finance


  • Luke Smith, junior, business and law


  • Hallie Horner, junior, elementary education

Elsewhere in the U.S.

Lyons, Colorado:

  • Mia VanLeeuwen, sophomore, business administration

Parker, Colorado:

  • Eric Jacob, sophomore, business and law

Courtland, Kansas:

  • Carolina Barraza, junior, accounting and marketing

Fairway, Kansas:

  • Sydney Beck, sophomore, business administration

Rogers, Minnesota:

  • Jacob Ripley, sophomore, Clifton Builders management

Victoria, Minnesota:

  • Callin Hake, sophomore, marketing and management

Sioux Falls, South Dakota:

  • Hannah Thompson, sophomore, business and law

Recent News