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Tar Heel Lorrie Fair returns to Carolina

As a member of three NCAA champion women's soccer teams, an Olympic Silver Medalist and 1999 FIFA World Cup Champion, Lorrie Fair Allen accomplished many things in her soccer career. Now she's returning to Carolina - as a student - to pursue her Master of Public Administration.

More than a decade after she graduated from Carolina with a degree in communications and mathematics and as a three-time national champion on the women’s soccer team, Lorrie Fair Allen is back at Carolina.

Allen is enrolled in the master of public administration program at the School of Government. The program, she says, will help her succeed in her current job and in her volunteer work as a sports envoy for the State Department.

There’s another reason she is excited about the program, too.

“I get to be a double Tar Heel!” Allen said. “I think anyone who comes here knows there is something pretty special about this place.”

Allen, who lives outside Los Angeles, works for the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, a foundation the Academy Award-winning actress created in 2007. In her role as program director, Allen is involved in identifying and working with community-based organizations that engage young people in HIV prevention and awarding grants to help them accomplish their goals.

“This MPA will prepare me for life,” Allen said. “It’s preparing me for how to attack the advocacy side, the policy side. I know it’s going to help me be better at my job.”

The School of Government’s MPA@UNC program serves about 200 students each year, preparing them for leadership roles in local, state and federal governments and the nonprofit sector.

The program’s online format gives Allen the flexibility to work full-time while she raises two sons. The program also includes some in-person instruction, which gave Allen an opportunity to return to campus in November. She expects to finish the program in the summer of 2019.

Allen said her new degree also will help her increase impact in another international interest: sports diplomacy. She has traveled the world both on her own and as a State Department sports envoy, making connections with other cultures using a shared love for soccer.

Allen won NCAA championships at Carolina in 1996, 1997 and 1999. She also won a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and played on the team that won the FIFA World Cup in 1999. The mixed passion for soccer and advocacy began taking root when she arrived in Chapel Hill years ago.

“This program is really special,” Allen said. “Anson [Dorrance] builds leaders. His biggest hope is that that extends beyond the soccer field. I’m really proud of being a Tar Heel.”