The Clifton Strengths Institute in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Business recently honored its students’ achievements during its third annual recognition ceremony. Started as a virtual ceremony during the pandemic, the event brought together students alongside friends and family to celebrate in person for the first time.
“Students are the heroes of our story and why we are here tonight,” said Tim Hodges, the institute’s executive director and assistant professor of practice in management. “This ceremony is a celebration of students who take great ownership and create meaningful change for themselves and those they serve.”
Students were honored with three awards — the Outstanding Builder Coach Award, Outstanding Coach Award and Mark Pogue Award.
The Outstanding Builder Award honors students in the Clifton Builders program who take on challenges to create change when others may back away. Clifton Builders is a cohort-based program that equips highly entrepreneurial students with tools to build, lead and manage people. The two recipients were Adam Folsom, senior finance and management major from Omaha, and Sidney Therkelsen, senior Clifton Builders management major from Elkhorn.
The Outstanding Coach Award honors student strengths coaches who exceed expectations in their work to advance strengths. The coaches mentor about 1,000 new students in Professional Enhancement I: Investing in Strengths, a required course for all first-year business students. The two winners were Tori Pedersen, senior agricultural leadership education major from Omaha, and Jordan Seitz, senior supply chain management major from Gregory, Michigan.
The ceremony concluded with the Mark Pogue Award, honoring the legacy of the former Clifton Strengths Institute director, who died in 2018. It is presented to a student who exemplifies his passion, resilience and energy. This year’s recipient was Erika Casarin, senior management major from Lincoln. Casarin made her impact in the institute as a coach and senior lead, spreading strengths-based efforts throughout her community.
“Erika is truly a self-starter who will unite others to create positive change within the community and live more fulfilling lives,” said Jami Pogue Romshek, who was married to Mark and presented the award alongside their daughter, College of Business alumna Paige Petts. “We thank her for sharing her fierce resiliency and compassion with the Clifton Strengths Institute community.”
The ceremony also recognized about 40 other students in the institute for their achievements throughout the year, based upon feedback from students, number of coaching sessions and personal milestones. Hodges commended all the students for their positive impact within the Nebraska Business community.
“Our students get real work experience while in college,” Hodges said. “They are self-aware, confident and passionate about making a difference in the world through their careers and with their lives. We couldn’t be more proud to celebrate them tonight. One of my favorite quotes from Don Clifton is that ‘there is no excellence without celebration.’”