by KELLEY GUSICH | photos by Soul of Photography

Rancho Santa Fe Style

student_nielsen3Lifelong RSF residents 18-year-old Nick Nielsen and his 16-year-old sister Emmie love the quaint, small, and sunny community they’ve grown up in. At their school, Pacific Ridge in Carlsbad, Nick and Emmie shared their love of the way the teachers and students work together both in and out of the classroom. A mutual respect is ingrained – “The Harkness table discussions that we have make it much easier for every student to have a voice,” Emmie said, “and allow everybody to get an equal chance to voice their opinions.” Her favorite subjects there are science and psychology, and she’s a varsity starter for the basketball and lacrosse girl’s teams. Nick plays basketball and is fascinated by history, from modern world to post-colonial African. He credits his teacher, Mr. Webber, for stoking this interest. “He made learning history entertaining throughout my sophomore and junior years here at Pacific Ridge.”

Although a younger Nick thought professional baseball might be his goal, once he started high school, basketball emerged as his main passion. He’s now been given the Coaches Award and Second Team All-League, also receiving a High Academic Athlete Award last year while playing for the competitive team West Coast Elite. He volunteers his time to Bird’s Nest, New Haven Night Shelter, and La Posada – service groups assisting the homeless from Carlsbad to Cape Town, South Africa. Nick wants to study sports business.


Name: Nicholas Nielsen (18)
School: Pacific Ridge School
Grade: 12
Parents: Trudy and Eric Nielsen
Favorite Local Spot: Basketball courts at the Rancho Santa Fe School/Community Center

Name: Emmie Nielsen (16)
School: Pacific Ridge School
Grade: 11
Parents: Trudy and Eric Nielsen
Favorite Local Spot: Rancho Valencia


Emmie’s big adventure started at Coachella last year, when she was scouted by IMG Models. Signing with the agency worldwide, she is represented in each IMG office – New York, London, Paris, and Milan. This past September, Emmie got to walk in fashion shows for five different designers, working 12 to 14 hours per day for 21 consecutive days. “It was the most challenging, yet rewarding, experience of my entire life!” Emmie exclaimed. She volunteers for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and her future goal is to live in NYC and model full-time.


Both siblings rave about mom as their biggest inspiration. They highlight how she helps them push themselves and try their absolute hardest in every endeavor, whether it be academics, sports, modeling, or volunteerism. “She constantly inspires me to challenge myself, be a better communicator, a better student, and a better person,” Nick affirmed. Emmie reiterated all those sentiments, then concluded with, “And most of all, her hilarious sense of humor keeps me laughing and happy every single day.”