Student strengths coaches selected to encourage first-year development

· 5 min read

Student strengths coaches selected to encourage first-year development

Student strengths coach Shivang Vaidya (right) leads a one-on-one coaching session.
Student strengths coach Shivang Vaidya (right) leads a one-on-one coaching session.

The Clifton Strengths Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business has selected 74 students to serve as strengths coaches for the 2017-18 school year. The coaches will mentor more than 750 first-year business students in the Professional Enhancement I Investing in Strengths course.

Required for all first-year business students, the course aims to help students develop and apply strengths to achieve academic, personal and professional success using the CliftonStrengths assessment. During the course, coaches lead team meetings of up to 10 students once a week and two 30-minute one-on-one strengths coaching sessions for each team member. They also help facilitate discussions during class.

“Starting their college career by identifying their natural talents and strengths prepares our students to be successful,” said Mark Pogue, executive director of the Clifton Strengths Institute and assistant professor of practice in management. “The individualized coaching helps them apply their strengths toward their goals to help reach their potential.”

Prospective coaches complete an application and interview process. Once selected, they participate in a five-hour strengths coach training focused on learning the 34 themes of the CliftonStrengths assessment and coaching students to maximize potential using their top strengths.

“We select students who have the passion and energy to positively impact the lives of others and the innate talent to easily connect and communicate with people to help guide their development,” said Samantha Kennelly, Clifton Strengths Institute coordinator. “First-year students thrive when our coaches recognize their unique potential and guide them to succeed by leading with their strengths.”

This year’s group of coaches boasts high experience with 21 returning coaches, 21 seniors and three graduate students. Coaches represent five colleges at Nebraska, including 52 business students.

Strengths coaches also gain professional development throughout the process. During the eight-week course, they gain skills leading and managing teams, and expertise in student development and positive psychology. Applications for the 2018-19 school year will be available in August and are due by Oct. 1.

To learn more about student strengths coaches and the Clifton Strengths Institute, visit

The strengths coaches for the 2017-18 school year, with their year in school and academic major(s), are:


  • Alliance: Bri Ridenour, senior, management.
  • Bellevue: Beth Alexander, junior, psychology and pre-med; Brandon Smith, sophomore, marketing.
  • Bennington: Alessandra Lonie, sophomore, business management.
  • Creighton: Brook Baller, junior, psychology.
  • Crete: Daisy Ortiz, junior, psychology.
  • Gering: Jasie Beam, junior, management.
  • Gibbon: Veronica Sanchez, sophomore, business administration.
  • Grand Island: Angelica Carilini, senior, marketing and management; Erik Raber, senior, economics and finance.
  • Lincoln: Hesham Akif, senior, marketing; Vanja Bilinac, junior, actuarial science; Isabel Cheesman, junior, psychology and pre-law; Caitlin Drummy, graduate student, finance; Erica Eschliman, sophomore, economics; Nathan Fickenscher, senior, secondary math education; Margaret Gies, junior, civil engineering; Pranav Gupta, junior, computer science; Raghav Kidambi, junior, management (human resources); Minh Nguyen, sophomore, finance; Phat Nguyen, junior, management (entrepreneurship and innovation); Holly Pham, senior, international business; Paige Pogue, junior, marketing; Reilly Pogue, sophomore, child, youth and family studies; Gabriela Rodriguez, sophomore, business administration; Taylor Rothgeb, sophomore, English; Xiao Yun Sim, senior, music in vocal performance; Desiree Sorensen, junior, accounting; Elizabeth Uebele, junior, management (human resources); Justin Wiley, junior, marketing; Kaytlin McCasey, senior, management (human resources).
  • Murdock: Brandon Frates, sophomore, accounting.
  • North Platte: Madeline Bishop, senior, marketing.
  • Omaha: Samantha Batchelder, sophomore, psychology; Emily Danigole, sophomore, psychology; Kelsey Folkers, sophomore, accounting; James Glover, senior, economics; Melanie Harvey, sophomore, business administration; Lauren Mangiameli, junior, management (human resources); Rachel Olig, sophomore, business administration; Caleb Salter, junior, marketing; Max Sealer, senior, pre-secondary education (social sciences); Ethan Stuckwisch, junior, marketing and management; Jennifer Torres, senior, management.
  • Papillion: Lauren Kelba, graduate student, educational administration-student affairs.
  • Seward: Jared Hain, senior, business administration.
  • Sidney: Cassy Ross, senior, global studies.


  • Queen Creek, Arizona: Tyler Medina, junior, marketing.
  • Mission Viejo, California: Kristen Cecil, junior, psychology.
  • Valencia, California: Katherine Lemke, senior, management (human resources).
  • Boulder, Colorado: Caela Freeburg, junior, business administration.
  • Centennial, Colorado: Brooke Morris, junior, psychology.
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado: Stefanie Wood, junior, management.
  • Fort Collins, Colorado: Regan Burnham, junior, business administration.
  • Parker, Colorado: Morgan Buehler, sophomore, business administration.
  • Elmhurst, Illinois: Caroline Alfini, senior, marketing.
  • Gurnee, Illinois: Tyler Puccio, junior, management; Brooke Sowa, junior, actuarial science.
  • Sioux City, Iowa: Sydney McManamy, junior, management.
  • Urbandale, Iowa: Taylor Gehring, senior, accounting.
  • Overland Park, Kansas: Alexa Dolesh, junior, nutrition science.
  • Farmington, Minnesota: Said-Nuriddin Makhmudzoda, senior, marketing.
  • Hugo, Minnesota: Sydney Lacher, sophomore, business administration.
  • Plymouth, Minnesota: Eleanore Anderson, senior, human development and family science.
  • Prior Lake, Minnesota: Rachel Kleist, junior, actuarial science.
  • Woodbury, Minnesota: Sydney Lenarz, sophomore, finance.
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Simon Wang, senior, supply chain management.
  • Groton, South Dakota: Allison Weber, sophomore, management (human resources).
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Claire Berman, graduate student, educational administration-student affairs; Cal Cross, junior, music education.
  • Dallas, Texas: Maddie Gaber, junior, management.
  • Richland, Washington: Sophie Podhaisky, senior, marketing and managment.
  • Stoughton, Wisconsin: Kristen Nett, junior, management.
  • Muscat, Oman: Shivang Vaidya, junior, finance and economics.

Recent News