'Like a superhero': Remembering UNC student Patrick Luc Nixon
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that first-year Sanjana Tharuvesanchi held a position in UNC student government. The article has been updated to reflect the change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
UNC first-year student Patrick Luc Nixon, who helped raise money for local charities and worked in student government, passed away after being hit by a car while running in Raleigh on Monday, April 27. He was 19.
His father, Lester Nixon, remembers Patrick as a kind and loving person. Patrick’s friends said he was passionate and motivated.
“Everything that drove him inspired me,” said first-year David Carroll. “Being around him made me want to be a better person.”
After his family moved to North Carolina in 2007, Patrick began attending school in the Wake County Public School System's magnet program. He graduated from Enloe High School with a 4.0 GPA and lettered in soccer.
“He was willing to work very hard to get where he wanted to go,” said Nixon. “And I admired that quality in him more than any other quality he possessed.”
In high school, Patrick was part of student council and the Enloe Charity Ball, which raises funds and awareness annually for local nonprofit organizations.
“The last year he participated, they raised over $200,000 for an autism program in Raleigh,” Nixon said. “He enjoyed very much being in the Charity Ball fundraising and he had so many friends through that program.”
Patrick’s girlfriend, Maya Lin, is a UNC first-year. The pair began dating during their sophomore year at Enloe and were voted cutest couple their senior year.
“Sometimes I forget that our relationship had been so long because we were always changing,” Lin said. “There was never a dull moment in our relationship. I know that sounds cheesy and cliché, but it was honestly so true."
Lin said Patrick was selfless with everything he did for her. He would always drive them places when they were back home in Raleigh.
“And now going to those same places, I don’t even really remember the way because he was always driving me,” Lin said.
Even early in their relationship, Lin said Patrick was thoughtful and genuine.
“At the beginning of our relationship, he would go over the top with some of his gifts that he would give to me,” Lin said. “On either Christmas or my birthday, he had handmade an entire flip-book that he drew, cut, pasted, put together himself and he never considered himself to be very creative or artistic but in that moment, getting that present from him, it meant so much that he put in that much time and effort.”
Inside the flip-book, Patrick had written, “My heart beats for you,” with a Montblanc pen, a gift his mother had left for him. His mother, Yen Luc Nixon, passed away from cancer in 2016.
“He told me later on that he had used that pen to create that flip-book for me,” Lin said. “I still have it. It just meant so much because I don’t even think I know anyone else who would put in that much time and effort for someone.”
Patrick worked with Camp Kesem at UNC, an organization that supports children who have been impacted by a parent’s cancer. Carroll got to know Patrick through Camp Kesem.
“We both knew that we wanted to give back to that organization because we had both lost our parents to cancer,” Carroll said. “It was just really amazing to have someone that I already had connected with as friends, but we were going to connect on a deeper level through camp.”
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Patrick had planned to be a Camp Kesem counselor this summer. He was also a member of student government's First-Year Focus Council and an admissions ambassador at UNC.
“He was actually the one who encouraged me to apply for being one this next year,” first-year Sanjana Tharuvesanchi said. “I think, especially every time I give a tour, at the end of the tour I’m going to be thinking of him and the impact that he made on my life and my time at Carolina.”
Tharuvesanchi, who was on Enloe’s student council with Patrick, said he inspired everyone around him.
“Even just freshman year, he’s impacted so many people in just one year,” Tharuvesanchi said. “It’s insane to think about all of the things that he was involved in. I can hope to be half as great at Carolina in my next three years as he was in one year.”
Along with the many extracurricular activities he was involved in, Patrick also worked two jobs, while managing schoolwork. Still, Lin said he always seemed to have it put together.
“He didn’t do anything that he didn’t love,” Lin said. “He was almost like a superhero.”
Patrick’s friends said he loved to watch UNC sports, including football, soccer and field hockey.
“He would know all the chants and cheers so he would participate in them very heavily,” first-year Kevin Wilson said. “He just made it a lot more fun.”
Wilson and fellow first-year Carson Cook were suitemates with Patrick.
“I know he worked hard in school,” Cook said. “I’d go to his room sometimes and he’d always be at his desk working. He was also really active in student government and other organizations. He was just going all the time, nonstop.”
Aside from organizations at school, his father said Patrick also loved the outdoors. He had been to all 50 states and half of the national parks.
At UNC, Patrick was majoring in public policy and economics. He had hoped to one day work in the federal government.
“He was one of those people that made the Carolina community what it is,” Carroll said.
Patrick Luc Nixon is survived by his father, Lester James Nixon; his stepmother Donna Marie Nixon, brother Philip Luc Nixon, half-brother Dr. James Nixon, half-sister Allison Stanton, half-sister Kathryn Kinder, stepsister Stephanie Walker and stepbrother Bryan Walker.
Patrick’s family held a vehicle visitation in Raleigh on Sunday. In lieu of flowers, the family encouraged donations to Camp Kesem.
“He was a very special young man,” Nixon said. “The world suffered a great loss when it lost him.”