Advisor Named PTC Innovator of the Year

Advising is an essential service at Piedmont Technical College (PTC), and continual improvement is a must. There is always a better way to do things, and the PTC Business Division’s Embedded Advising Coordinator Nicole Fuller has seized on that better way, even expanded upon it. For her trailblazing work at PTC, the college recently named Fuller its Innovator of the Year. 

Fuller joined the team in 2021, while the college was working to reform its advising platform by implementing more outreach to students, conferring with faculty teaching first-year seminars, monitoring individual student progress to identify needs, and nurturing relationships that continue throughout the student’s journey at PTC. 

“Nicole’s ability to build relationships with students and faculty has created a firm conduit for shifting the culture of a responsive nature to a more proactive one,” PTC Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Keli Fewox said. “She is a stellar employee. Her integrity and commitment to the students whom we serve consistently results in student and faculty success.” 

The numbers don’t lie. Between Fall 2021 and Fall 2022, persistence and retention at the college increased by 7% and 5%, respectively for business majors. Enrollment gains for these students were even more significant, with a 42% increase. 

“With required advising at PTC, the goal is to step beyond the transactional part of advising and make each interaction personal and transformational,” Fuller said. 

The push to revolutionize advising at PTC originated with the launch in 2018 of its Healthcare Division’s CAREplan platform for students pursuing degrees in the healthcare fields. The overwhelming success of CAREplan led to PTC establishing a pilot group to replicate the CAREplan concept, with Fuller in 2021 becoming the college’s first embedded advisor serving the Business and Administrative Office Technology departments. 

“Nicole Fuller has been an integral part of the college’s Guided Pathways (now Career Communities) initiative,” said Menka Brown, PTC’s dean for Business, Information Technologies, and Public Service. “As a result of Nicole’s initiative and hard work, the number of student degree plans in the Business Career Community increased substantially.”

""It’s been a good year so far for Fuller, who in February also was recognized as a staff educator of the year at the South Caroling Technical College Association (SCTEA) annual conference. 

Fuller, a former PTC student, today holds a master’s degree in education with an emphasis on student support services. Not only has she walked in students’ shoes, but she has embraced and mastered the proven pedagogy of providing attentive, ongoing wraparound advising services to keep students engaged, focused, and on course to graduation.

“At first, the task of revising the Business Division advising platform was overwhelming,” Fuller said. “But I had worked in CAREplan and knew what it did. So I approached it with the idea of making the new platform look just like CAREplan. However, I found out that one size does not fit all. So I let the faculty know that we would be incorporating bits and pieces of CAREplan to emerge with what’s best for the Business Division. I think it went well, and it is a huge compliment to be described as ‘innovative.’” 

PTC leadership has been grateful for Fuller’s conscientiousness and flexibility in improving what already was a good system.

“While the college had a general idea of how the embedded advisor role should function, Ms. Fuller’s efforts to make close connections to faculty, staff, and students has helped us to establish a template for how this role should function,” said Josh Black, PTC’s vice president for student affairs. “She developed an approach to monitoring student progress, leveraged institutional data to determine which students were most in need of support, and led efforts to adopt new technologies to create communication plans over the student life cycle.” 

“I love it when I have in-person appointments with my students. So many of them are by phone, but I love to put a name with a face. In person, we can have a deeper conversation because we are face-to-face, and I can learn their personal story,” Fuller said. “It’s a big celebratory moment when I can learn more about them and see their progress along the way. … My ultimate goal is to help the student get across the stage at graduation.”


•    Nicole Fuller
•    Dr. Hope Rivers (left) congratulates Fuller on her 2024 SCTEA Educator of the Year award