As a student at Westtown, a Quaker boarding school in West Chester, Pa., Najha Zigbi-Johnson ’17 was particular about her choice of colleges. “I wanted to continue my education in a place with a clear values system,” she said.
The lifelong resident of Central Harlem, New York City, decided that Guilford was that place, and she has distinguished herself academically and as a student leader over the past three years.
On March 5, the Black Alumni of Guilford College Advisory Board presented Najha with the inaugural BOOST Award for academic excellence. The award was established by the Black Alumni of Guilford College Advisory Board and funded by alumni and friends.
“It’s incredible that the BAGC is supportive of current students and have an active presence on campus,” she said. “It’s exciting to know that when I graduate that I will be a part of a community of black alums that are invested in the future and sustainability of Guilford.”
Najha and 31 other students received awards at the annual Journeys in Blackness Banquet that celebrates black student excellence and black culture on campus. The Rev. Santes Beatty ’97 delivered the event’s keynote address.
After graduating from Guilford, Santes served the College as Bonner Scholars coordinator, the first director of African American affairs, director of multicultural services, Africana Community coordinator and assistant football coach. He oversaw the Conflict Resolution Resource Center and helped develop the Multicultural Leadership Scholars Program. Since 2014, Santes has worked as director of multi-ethnic ministries within the Church Multiplication and Discipleship Division of The Wesleyan Church, headquartered in Indiana.
In addition to receiving the BOOST Award, Najha was selected by the Multicultural Education Department to receive the Adrienne Israel Student Academic Excellence Award. A religious studies major with a minor in community studies, she expects to complete her degree requirements as soon as this December and is considering graduate programs.
She is interested in finding ways to create more sustainable, equitable places in which people can live and thrive. “Part of being a Guilford student is being a global citizen,” said Najha, who went to Cuba on a College-led study abroad program.
She is active with Integrity for Guilford, a student group working with President Jane K. Fernandes and senior leaders to create a sustainable future for the College with attention to racism and the needs of marginalized students.
Najha enjoys collaborating on projects with other college students in Greensboro.
“A lot of my learning has been in engaging with other students from different backgrounds,” she said. “I’m humbled by others I’ve been around."