34 students selected for Clifton Builders Program at Nebraska

· 5 min read

34 students selected for Clifton Builders Program at Nebraska

Institute prepares student entrepreneurs to make an impact
Thirty-three Clifton Builders pose west of Howard L. Hawks Hall
Garrett Stolz | Business
The Clifton Strengths Institute at Nebraska recently welcomed 34 new students into the Clifton Builders Program. The students declare a Clifton Builders Management major or minor and choose one of three tracks: business builder, team builder or community builder.

The Clifton Strengths Institute at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has selected 34 students for the seventh 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.

“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 of building businesses, teams or communities. They also work with a 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,” Ferris said. “They also explore and define their interests in entrepreneurship, team building or community development.”

Every Clifton Builder enrolls in the course 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 is one of many hands-on learning opportunities builders encounter throughout the program.

“We don’t just present and discuss content in the classroom,” Hodges said. “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.”

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,” she said. “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.”

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 JP Morgan Chase, Gallup and Kiewit.

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

The program typically selects students from any major in their first year, with courses beginning the following fall. Applications for the fall 2023 cohort are due by Oct. 14. To apply or learn more about the Clifton Builders program, visit https://business.unl.edu/builders.

The 2022 cohort of Clifton Builders, with their year in school and major(s), are:



  • Baden Brumbaugh, sophomore, economics and psychology

Central City:

  • Jade Erickson, sophomore, Clifton Builders Management


  • Simon Schumacher, sophomore, business administration


  • Leah Nordstrom, sophomore, marketing

Grand Island:

  • Kelly Solis, sophomore, business administration and Clifton Builders Management


  • Shelby Baker, junior, art


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


  • Gage Bertucci, sophomore, finance

Rising City:

  • Kira Pavlik, sophomore, accounting


  • Landon Andersen, sophomore, accounting and finance


  • Lindsay Rickers, sophomore, marketing

Weeping Water:

  • Jamison Twomey, junior, marketing

Elsewhere in the U.S.

Scottsdale, Arizona:

  • Samuel McCracken, sophomore, business administration

Englewood, Colorado:

  • Evan Wilson, sophomore, business administration

Fort Collins, Colorado:

  • Conor Maguire, sophomore, business administration

Longmont, Colorado:

  • Jordan Westenbroek, sophomore, accounting

Wilmington, Delaware:

  • Nathan Gaughan, sophomore, finance

Glen Carbon, Illinois:

  • Braden Starck, junior, finance
  • Jack Wise, junior, international business

Shakopee, Minnesota:

  • Carly Gorter, junior, business administration

Waconia, Minnesota:

  • Hadleigh Sueker, sophomore, Clifton Builders Management

Lee’s Summit, Missouri:

  • Garrett Smith, junior, accounting and Clifton Builders Management

Humboldt, South Dakota:

  • Lydia Hoffman, junior, finance

Jefferson, South Dakota:

  • Will Geary, sophomore, finance

Grafton, Wisconsin:

  • Kate Aleknavicius, sophomore, Clifton Builders Management

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