Black Women Find Connection and Community Through Msaada Mentorship Program

a group of young Black men and women

Nevaeh Angarita ’26 traveled to Atlanta with a group of her peers to connect with alums of color last spring as part of the Women of Color Career Trek organized by the Matthews Center for Career Development. Many of the Atlanta alums are Msaada mentors.

The Msaada Mentorship Program has been forging partnerships between Black women students and alums who share similar interests, passions and career goals for nearly three years. For Nevaeh Angarita ’26 and Zaynah Johnson ’10, the program brought renewed Davidson College connections and opportunities to heal.

Last spring, Angarita participated in a Women of Color Career Trek organized by the Matthews Center for Career Development. She traveled to Atlanta with a group of her peers to connect with alums of color, many of whom were already Msaada mentors, and they encouraged her to get involved.

Back on campus, Angarita signed up and was paired with Johnson, an Atlanta resident and director of youth development at Boys & Girls Clubs of America. An English and sociology major, Angarita hopes to pursue a career in education.

From their first FaceTime call, the two discovered they had much more in common than just career interests. They talked about everything from books and movies to identity issues and the challenges of navigating Davidson’s predominantly white campus. 

“We’ve faced a lot of the same issues as Black women at Davidson,” Angarita said. “Zaynah shows me that I’m not alone and reminds me that others have struggled with the same things I have.”

Johnson hadn’t visited Davidson’s campus since graduating. While she initially hesitated to become involved as an alum, she saw the Msaada program as an opportunity to provide the kind of support she wished she had as a student. 

Getting to know Angarita, she’s also learned mentorship works both ways. 

“Right away, I was impressed by Nevaeh’s level of self-awareness, her drive and her outlook on the world,” Johnson said. “There can be a power dynamic involved in mentoring, so it was important for me to let her set her own expectations. We’ve really learned from one another. She asks me questions about my experience during and after Davidson, and she teaches me a lot about celebrating joy and practicing self-love.”

The two began talking every week to trade advice, vent about relationships, celebrate their wins and unpack the issues facing Black students at Davidson. Along with serving on two Black Student Coalition (BSC) committees, Angarita is the treasurer of Black Femmes, a club that provides social spaces and community activities for Black women and femmes on campus. She and Johnson often reflect on the new support systems that have emerged in the past decade at Davidson.

“We talk a lot about our respective experiences with the BSC and the challenges that go along with maintaining a central space for all Black students at Davidson,” Angarita said. “There weren’t as many resources and opportunities when Zaynah was a student, even though Black students still deal with many of the same issues now.”

This year, Angarita volunteered to serve as a mentor herself, working with two first-year students through STRIDE (Students Together Reaching for Individual Development and Education). Her experience as Johnson’s mentee prepared her to pay it forward, whether she’s offering advice or simply being a friend. 

“Zaynah truly cares about supporting students who are going through the same things she did,” Angarita said. “I admire her willingness to get involved and help me navigate Davidson — she’s taught me a lot about being a kind person and a good mentor to others.”

two young Black women standing together in a building with a staircase in the background

Johnson met up with Angarita while on a visit to campus. 

A few months ago, Johnson visited Davidson for the first time since 2010. She and Angarita met in person and took a walk around campus, observing the things that had changed and the things that looked exactly the same. 

“Participating in the Msaada program has been a bit of a healing journey for me,” she said. “Nevaeh is so invested and involved in the Black community at Davidson, and she leans into everything she does. Watching her figure out who she is and achieve milestones both personally and professionally, I feel an immense sense of gratitude. She’s an incredible mentee, and I could not have asked for a better first experience as a mentor.”

Learn more about the Msaada Mentorship Program

While the Msaada Mentorship Program is designed for Davidson Black women students, regardless of ordinal class level, any student is eligible to apply to participate.


In February, we commemorate Black History Month and share stories about people who’ve made Davidson College a better, more diverse and equitable community.