UNC women’s soccer captain Paige Nielsen will be fulfilling a lifelong dream when she graduates from Carolina on Sunday.
“I actually drew a picture of Mia Hamm and said ‘this is the school that I want to go to’ when I was really young,” she said. “Nothing was going to stop me from coming here.”
In her four years at Carolina she totaled 13 goals and 7 assists and this year she was named a Senior All-American. But Nielsen’s impact extended far beyond the soccer pitch.
As an Eve Carson Scholar she frequently got involved with community service.
“I went to a lot of caroling events during the holidays,” she said. “And I would go to the hospital and visit children.”
But after her mother was diagnosed with lymphoma, Nielsen began to dedicate herself to that cause.
“Honestly this past year I was basically raising money for my mom,” she said. “I was busy with that with my sister and we raised over $60,000.”
Nielsen said she wants to organize a college scholarship for children in single parent households whose parents were diagnosed with cancer.
As far as what’s next after graduation, Nielsen is keeping her options open.
“I’m flying to Germany to tryout with Turbine Potsdam to play there professionally until April,” she said. “And then hopefully come back and play in the NWSL or I did accept my job at Bank of America and that would start in July.”
But if you’re looking for Nielsen at the graduation ceremony on Sunday, don’t bother, because she’ll be in Charlotte, watching the Panthers play the other kind of football.