Nelson Oceano calls UNC Greensboro the “perfect fit.”
As a high school student and standout soccer player in Berlin, Germany, Oceano was looking for an opportunity to excel in both academics and athletics.
“Combining those two passions here at UNCG was a dream,” he says.
Oceano has been playing soccer for as long as he can remember. He played for the Hertha BSC academy for five years and represented Germany as part of the U15 national team in 2013.
After suffering an injury at age 16, he began to focus more on academics, particularly art and design.
“My mom is a costume designer, and my dad is an actor. I’ve always been around creative people,” he says.
UNCG has given Oceano the best of both worlds. He won two Southern Conference championships at UNCG, and now in his final year, he’s competing for the first time in the NCAA Tournament. When he’s not on the field, he spends most of his time in the Gatewood Studio Arts Building on campus, working on design projects and flexing his creative muscles.
Oceano explains that interior architecture is so important because as humans, we spend nearly 90% of our time indoors. He is particularly interested in designing civic spaces – like cultural centers and museums – that positively impact people and facilitate learning and cultural exchange.
“I think that bringing people together in different environments to learn about each other is really interesting,” he says. “How do you design for that? How do you create spaces that encourage diversity and equality?”
Oceano has applied to master’s programs in interior architecture and architecture in Germany and the Netherlands. Although he’ll be thousands of miles away from Greensboro, Oceano says he’ll hold onto the relationships he’s formed and the lessons he’s learned here.
“I’ve come to appreciate that life is more than just soccer. It’s about building friendships and investing in others,” he says. “Overall, I just have an appreciation for UNCG, and it will always be a part of my life. I’m very much thankful for my time here.”
What’s his advice for future student-athletes?
“Give 100%. It’s a privilege to be in a DI program and to be able to go to college, so be grateful for the opportunity, and show that you care every day.”
Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications
Videography by Grant Evan Gilliard, University Communications, and Darian Phillips, UNCG Athletics