Pioneer Spotlight: Nicole Ruchotzke

Nicole Ruchotzke

After growing up in rural Sabula, Iowa, Nicole Ruchotzke attended the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, earning a degree in biology. From there, she went on to earn her master’s in public health at Concordia University before returning to her alma mater in 2017, where she joined the Office of Professional Program Support as an advisor.  

“As a college student my favorite thing to do was plan out my class schedule,” said Ruchotzke. “The opportunities to learn new subjects and try new things always seemed wide open when it came to registration season. Therefore, when the advisor position was posted, I thought it would be awesome to be able to do this for a living.”

Ruchotzke now lives out her passion every day as she helps a diverse range of students accomplish their academic goals. 

What does a typical workday look like for you?

Every day is slightly different because of the various populations I serve. One day I might be working with students looking to enroll in a single course, whereas another day I could be working with an incarcerated student looking for educational opportunities to better their future. The variety of students keeps me engaged and provides me with a puzzle to solve to help students achieve their end goal.

How many students do you advise? Are there any challenges that come with your responsibilities?

I have 183 students that I advise in various programs. Additionally, I coordinate online and print courses for campus students. Each student population has its own challenges. Whether it’s a new program, sorting out course offerings, or working with incarcerated students trying to take courses, each day is unique. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

There’s quite a few! I find it rewarding to connect former UW-Platteville campus students with our online offerings. What starts with a simple phone call can end up with the student returning to UW-Platteville and becoming an alumni. It’s wonderful to watch all the pieces and resources align to help students finish a degree they may have started years ago. 

Additionally, I enjoy hearing the stories and backgrounds of my students. There is such a wealth of knowledge, hope and prosperity in the ideas and dreams in my conversations with them. I am blessed with the opportunity to help them along the way.

Assisting our incarcerated students earn a degree through our degree-completion program is also a highlight for me. It’s inspiring to hear how their choices have gotten them to where they are and that they want to earn an education to better themselves and their communities upon their release. 

In 2020 you received the Advising Profession Impact Award by the Wisconsin Academic Advising Association. This is quite the achievement –how did it feel to win that award? What do you feel is the driving factor behind your success?

It was really exciting! It was nice to hear all the hard work I had been putting in didn’t go unnoticed. I think the driving factor behind my success was a supportive team and an institution focused on providing opportunities to our students. 

What are your interests outside of work?

Outside of work I enjoy reading, helping on my parents' farm and traveling.