Missing Columbia University Student Found, What Does Her Story Say About Black Students Attending PWIs

Nayla Kidd

Last week Nayla Kidd, a 19-year-old student at Columbia University, reportedly went missing.  Her credit cards, Facebook page, and cell phone were all deactivated. She didn’t show up for her final exams.

After several days of searching, the Louisville, Kentucky native was found in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

“Basically, she just wanted to get away from it all…She rented a place in Brooklyn,” according to a source who spoke to the New York Daily News.

Kidd is currently on a full scholarship studying Engineering and Applied Science.  We can only imagine the workload and pressure most students endure on that track.  It’s no secret that young college students sometimes have a hard time adjusting to their new lives.  It’s also a known fact that depression and other forms of mental illness are often triggered when a person is in their early 20s.  To top it off, Columbia is a top predominately white institution (PWI) where black students have spoken out about experiencing racism.

This isn’t to say Kidd experienced any of these issues.  We don’t know why she chose to escape everything.  But her story magnifies the question of whether there is enough support for black female students, particularly at PWIs.

This brings to mind Melissa Harris Perry’s beautifully written and sourced article offering advice to Malia Obama on how to navigate Harvard University as a black female student.  That sort of collective advice and sisterhood could mean the difference in how a young person approaches their experience in college.  It’s the kind of piece we wish could snowball into something bigger–maybe in the form of a solid support group or coalition of current and past students solely dedicated to uplifting black girls who chose to attend these institutions.  It’s being done at Westhampton University and possibly other institutions, but maybe something more centralized that cuts across state lines in the form of regional chapters could pack a bigger punch in tackling this issue.



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