Clifton Strengths Institute selects 50 new coaches

· 5 min read

Clifton Strengths Institute selects 50 new coaches

Students will mentor first-year business undergraduates
The Clifton Strengths Institute at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln recently welcomed 50 new student strengths coaches. The coaches serve as mentors to new College of Business students in Professional Enhancement I: Investing in Strengths.
The Clifton Strengths Institute at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln recently welcomed 50 new student strengths coaches. The coaches serve as mentors to new College of Business students in Professional Enhancement I: Investing in Strengths.

The Clifton Strengths Institute at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has selected 50 students to serve as new strengths coaches for the 2021-22 academic year. The students will join returning coaches to mentor nearly 1,000 students in the College of Business enrolled in Professional Enhancement I: Investing in Strengths (BSAD 111).

In the course, each strengths coach leads a team of 10 students in weekly meetings, facilitates one-on-one sessions and helps facilitate discussions. Required for all first-year business students, the course demonstrates how to take one’s top strengths from the CliftonStrengths assessment and develop and apply them to achieve academic, personal and professional success.

“Students receive frequent feedback during their first few weeks on campus that informs their identity,” said Tim Hodges, executive director of the Clifton Strengths Institute and assistant professor of practice in management. “Our focus in BSAD 111 is to ensure that our new College of Business students receive positive feedback, with an intense focus on helping the students build their character and reach their potential. The CliftonStrengths assessment and our time in class give students a good foundation, but the most impactful development often happens when they meet one-on-one with our amazing student coaches.”

Strengths coaches accepted into the program enrolled in Strengths Coaching, Theory and Practice (MNGT 451) this spring. The class functions as a training course for new strengths coaches, providing an in-depth knowledge of strengths-based development and enhancing the skills necessary to succeed in positively impacting student development.

“In every class, we create an environment that mimics that of a coaching session: a space that is welcoming, accepting and celebrates the unique potential of people, encouraging them to leverage and grow in their CliftonStrengths to create a meaningful impact on the lives of others,” said Samantha Kennelly, associate director of the Clifton Strengths Institute. “Students put into practice the knowledge and skills they are learning to develop confidence and preparedness as a coach to best support incoming students as they transition to campus and the College of Business.”

Each student strengths coach leads 10 students through one-on-one coaching sessions to best leverage their top strengths from the CliftonStrengths assessment.

The cohort of coaches represents 20 majors and a wide variety of backgrounds on campus. This broad set of experiences culminate in an improved environment to grow and develop.

“Coaches coming from across campus provide a richness and depth to the class experience, which then encourages all students to appreciate and embrace different strengths, experiences and backgrounds,” Kennelly said. “Each coach has their own coaching philosophy and style, and having the opportunity to grow with and learn from students from all over enhances their ability and effectiveness as a coach.”

Strengths coaches play a key role within the college, striving to bring out the best in people and maximize their talents at the university, where strengths-based psychology originated through the work of Don Clifton. Clifton, who developed the CliftonStrengths assessment, asked the question, “What will happen when we think about what is right with people rather than fixating on what is wrong with them?”

Hodges said: “Great coaches ask great questions. Our student strengths coaches serve our mission by investing in the growth and development of students throughout the College of Business.”

To learn more about strengths coaches and the Clifton Strengths Institute, click here.

The new strengths coaches for the 2021-22 school year, with their year in school in the spring 2021 semester and academic major(s), are:


  • Ainsworth: Sam Wilkins, sophomore, agricultural engineering and agricultural economics
  • Beatrice: Holly Fischer, freshman, political science
  • Bellevue: Hannah Kost, freshman, actuarial science and finance
  • Clay Center: Dylan Schweer, sophomore, business administration
  • Clearwater: Alyssa Moser, freshman, agribusiness
  • Grand Island: Jarod Fox, sophomore, management
  • Humboldt: Grace Kanel, sophomore, accounting
  • Kearney: Ashton Mehlin, sophomore, communication sciences and disorders
  • Lincoln: Emma Gonzales, sophomore, marketing; Chloe Heller, freshman, management and marketing; Trevor LeGrande, sophomore, Clifton Builders management; Grace Miller, freshman, business administration; Julia Wordekemper, freshman, pre-health (dental hygiene track)
  • North Platte: Maggie Lashley, freshman, marketing
  • Omaha: Dylan Anderson, freshman, management; Sarah Carron, freshman, secondary education; Brannon Evans, sophomore, theatre performance; Tristen Glynn, freshman, management; Bailey Hanus, sophomore, supply chain management and Clifton Builders management; Anna Harris, junior, business administration; Jayden John, sophomore, psychology; Isha Kishore, freshman, business administration; Summer Liu, freshman, actuarial science; Claire Lyons, freshman, business administration; Brandon McMiller, sophomore, vocal performance; Morgan Mumford, freshman, business administration; Aaryan Naik, freshman, finance; Naren Narasimhan, freshman, marketing, and sports media and communication; Will Nixon, freshman, finance and pre-health (chiropractic track); Grace Olsen, freshman, business administration; Niheala Ponnatha, freshman, finance and journalism; Jailene Tavizon Alvidrez, sophomore, management
  • Papillion: Brendan Roberts, freshman, business administration
  • Waverly: Lauren Hartman, freshman, management


  • Oak Hills, California: Erin Dodds, freshman, marketing
  • Carpentersville, Illinois: Gina Vitacco, sophomore, marketing
  • Lemont, Illinois: Ella Pelen, freshman, marketing and management
  • Palos Park, Illinois: Henry Evans, freshman, finance
  • Plainfield, Illinois: Brandon Smentek, freshman, accounting
  • Sioux City, Iowa: Lincoln Rahn, freshman, finance and accounting
  • Kansas City, Kansas: Abbie Grimm, sophomore, accounting
  • Lenexa, Kansas: Madelyn Patterson, sophomore, management
  • Overland Park, Kansas: Colby Marsden, freshman, actuarial science
  • Burnsville, Minnesota: Dani Wilcox, freshman, marketing
  • Northfield, Minnesota: Faithe Quick, freshman, marketing
  • Pequot Lakes, Minnesota: Sarah Iverson, sophomore, hospitality, restaurant and tourism management
  • Kansas City, Missouri: Julia Flores, freshman, business administration
  • Springfield, Missouri: Grace Laflen, sophomore, accounting and global studies
  • Lake Oswego, Oregon: Sarah Leach, freshman, marketing
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Emily Kuhl, freshman, management and finance

Recent News