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Elizabeth Cake sits at the bell tower

Junior Elizabeth Cake came to Carolina from her hometown of Greensboro with a health care career in mind. But, when her first semester coursework didn’t ignite the passion she anticipated, she turned to family to help her explore other paths. 

“Over that first winter break, I took time to think deeply about what I wanted my life and my legacy to look like,” she said. “I realized that the main thing driving me, my main goal, was a fierce desire to care for and serve others.” 

Inspired by loved ones in the armed forces, Elizabeth took “a leap of faith” and declared her major as peace, war and defense with a second major in psychology. She hasn’t looked back.  

“I never get bored with such a diverse range of topics, and I know I am receiving a well-rounded education on complex global issues,” she said of her PWAD major. History, economics, culture and technology are just a few of the disciplines she’s explored through her classes.  

So far, a favorite class has been “Global History of Warfare,” which looks at conflict in the world’s earliest civilizations to the 21st century. 

Last semester, Elizabeth was chosen to participate in the Gettysburg Strategic Leader Staff Ride, a selective strategic leadership and decision-making program. 

“One of the things I love most about the PWAD major, aside from the passionate students, are the opportunities to advance my education outside of the classroom,” she said, adding that it was “empowering” to see over half of the young leaders in the room were women. 

Elizabeth also has a minor in German and will be spending this semester at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen in Tübingen, Germany, to sharpen her language skills and expand her global perspective.  

When she thinks of what makes Carolina home, Elizabeth’s teammates and friends in UNC Women’s Club Soccer Blue— who take on the club teams at Duke, Clemson and Georgia Tech — come to mind.  

“The women on my team truly are my family and are wonderful people on and off the field,” she said. 

She’s looking forward to three more semesters of Tar Heel memories like beating Duke in the Final Four in 2022, cheering on Carolina football with friends and taking classes that speak to her passions. 

“I have the privilege of waking up every day to study something that excites me, surrounded by disciplined and bright people who are looking to better themselves and serve their community.” 

By Jess Abel ’19

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