Ear Hustle

Nayla Kidd Columbia University Student Who Went Missing For 2 Weeks Was Found Safe Tells Police She Disappeared To Escape Her “Ivy League” Life

Sometimes we put pressure on things that doesn’t need to be so stressful.  For example, the amount of stress that is put upon our children to be successful.  Of course we want them to do their best and excel however as parents we have to take responsibility for the added pressure that our young people are under.  They go through stress at school, with their friends and then many are stressed from their family home situations.  It’s more than enough to make a person just not want to be bothered.   Well one Columbia University named Nayla Kidd felt so much of a disconnect from the world that she purposely took herself away from school, family, friends and off of social media, without warning or any indication to anyone.  The way she felt was indescribable but was she being selfish with her actions?

Her family was so distraught about her not responding to anyone, Nayla was reported missing.  This young lady had no clue that she was a missing person gone viral. EarHustle411 wants to ask this question, what or how would you feel if your child just simply dropped from sight on purpose?

Read more as told by Nayla Kidd why she felt she had to escape her Ivy League world and disappear as reported by the New York Post:

Nayla Kidd was an engineering student at Columbia University when reports that she had gone missing went viral. She was found perfectly healthy nearly two weeks later, only telling police she wanted to “start fresh.” But the 19-year old’s reason for going off the grid, without informing family or friends, remained a mystery. Here, Kidd reveals to The Post’s Melkorka Licea what triggered her brazen escape from the Ivy League, how she pulled it off and where she goes from here.

I  found out I was a missing person on May 14.

I had been ignoring the avalanche of calls and texts from friends and family asking where I was and if I was OK. But that night I caved, turned on my phone and decided to look.

Scrolling down the list of messages, I saw one from a friend that read: “Just Google yourself.”

nayla kidd

Photo Credit: J.C. Rice

I typed my name into the search bar and a huge list of news reports with photos of my face stared back at me.

Shocked, all I could think was, “Oh my God, the police are looking for me.”

I was living two lives at once, and it was so surreal.

Two weeks earlier, I was almost finished with my sophomore year at the Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science when I decided to start my new life.


I skipped my final exams, changed bank accounts, got a second phone number and deleted my Facebook page.

I needed to break from my old life of high pressure and unreasonable expectations.

I grew up in Louisville, Ky., where my mom, LaCreis, worked as a cancer-research scientist at the University of Louisville. It was just her and I; she raised me as a single mom.

I was always very independent, even at a young age. Louisville bored me, so when I was going to start high school, I insisted on moving to California to attend boarding school.

My mom didn’t want me to move so far away but supported my ­decision.

I got into Thacher, a highly competitive prep school in Ojai. Not long after I started, I became known as “The Science Girl.”

In my sophomore year, my chemistry teacher announced to all 240 students at an assembly that I had scored highest on the Regional Chemistry Olympiad — a national chemistry competition.

The teachers also used my homework as an example of what other students should strive for.

I enjoyed the praise and self-worth I felt when I excelled in school, and I wanted to keep aiming higher.

The ultimate climax was when I got into Columbia. Because it’s such a prestigious school, it made me feel like I had proven to myself, and everyone around me, that I made it.

And it seemed natural that I would continue to study science in college.

nayla kidd

photo credit: Nayla Kidd

I had always fantasized about living in New York, but the first day I moved it was also my birthday. I felt really alienated and alone and didn’t find the Columbia students very welcoming.

During my freshman year, I quickly went from star student to slacker.

School just wasn’t interesting to me anymore because I didn’t have any close connections with my teachers.

I came from a small, tight-knit community at Thacher, and at ­Columbia I was lucky if a teacher talked to me. I’m a social learner and Columbia didn’t provide me that opportunity.

I felt like I had to choose between living a life I was passionate about and doing well in school.

Even though I was wired to be a good student, I didn’t feel ­inspired.

I got through the year, getting B’s and C’s, but I didn’t care. I was just happy the summer had arrived.

On a magical night in July, my friend Charlie invited me back to her apartment in Brooklyn. While we were up on her rooftop, she confessed to a strange love of walking on dangerous ledges.

I started imagining if I would have the guts to walk the line ­between life and death.

The feeling of risk, freedom and fearlessness that she experienced while on the ledge were all things I yearned for. That night, Charlie didn’t actually walk the ledge, but the idea excited me.

When school started again in September, I took computer-science classes and hated every minute of it.

I had been waking up every day for months with a feeling of dread and doom. I couldn’t keep putting my all into something I cared nothing about.

On a rainy day in early April, I couldn’t take it anymore. I broke down hysterically crying on campus while I was trying to study for a test in Lerner Hall. Completely overwhelmed, I didn’t stop sobbing for all 10 blocks to my apartment on 124th Street and Broadway.

At 7 a.m. the next morning, I shot up in bed and told myself, “I’m ­going to change this.”

Feeling determined, I walked to the Ivy League Stationers on 116th Street and bought an olive-green notebook — the same color as my birthstone.

I started plotting my escape, jotting down my plan on the college rule lines. I knew one thing for sure; I wasn’t going to tell anyone.

I completely stopped going to all my classes and only went to my work-study on campus.

I made $14 an hour filming lectures for the Columbia Video Network and put every penny into ­savings. I sold unworn clothes and school supplies through Facebook to make some extra money.

Then I started searching for a new apartment. I replied to at least 20 posts through Facebook groups like NYC Living and Gypsy ­Housing.

The first person replied to me 12 hours later and I immediately went to take a look at the $750-a-month room in Williamsburg the next day.

When I popped out of the Morgan Avenue subway stop, I instantly felt like this was an area I wanted to live in. Art covers the walls, everyone looks interesting and there’s a fun vibe in the air.

The apartment mirrored the atmosphere of the neighborhood perfectly. I was barely at the loft a few minutes when I said I’d take it.

I felt like my plan was finally coming together.

On April 29, I moved out of my three-bedroom apartment where I was living with three former Columbia students who were all busy working jobs in computer science.

They didn’t ask any questions as I lugged all my belongings during multiple trips on the 1 and L trains to my new room on Seigel Street. At my new place, I live with two artists in their 20s who are both very easygoing.

The first night in my cozy new room, I was so relieved. I felt I had gotten over the main hurdle of my plan.

A few days later, I started to totally disconnect. I deleted my Facebook profile first, shut down my phone and got a prepaid number, took all of the money out of my Chase bank account and opened a new one.

I wanted the time to make sense of my situation alone and have the space to comprehend it. I felt like sharing would force me to explain something I hadn’t even figured out myself. It wasn’t normal to just quit school. But I never expected it to get so out of hand.

I spent the next week or so completely focused on myself. I got to know my new roommates, took walks around the neighborhood and found my new favorite coffee shop a few blocks away.

But the more time that passed, the more people tried to find me.

I had given my new number to a few friends after I first left, but quickly stopped responding to them.

At the worst point, my new phone was buzzing off the hook ­every 30 minutes. Eventually, a friend must have given my new number to my mom because she started calling, too.

I was constantly worrying, and the more they tried to contact me, the more I didn’t feel ready to tell them. The longer I ignored them, the worse it got.

When Mother’s Day arrived, I felt guilty for not calling my mom, but I still couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t face her yet.

I never turned on the TV and stayed immersed in my own world. I had only seen the missing-person fliers online.

nayla kidd

photo credit: J.C. Rice

About two weeks later, I heard a loud knock on my door.

“Are you Nayla Kidd?” one of the officers said sternly.

“Yes,” I replied.

“It’s the police. Can we come in?”

My jaw dropped to the ground.

“Yes,” I said sheepishly.

Three big cops came into my room.

“You know we’ve been looking for you nonstop for the past three days?” said Detective Alex Argiro, who had dark hair and a piercing stare.

At that point, I knew I needed to face reality. They told me since my mom wasn’t picking up the phone, it would be best for me to come to the 26th Precinct station house with them.

“Can you give me five minutes to get ready to go?” I asked.

I threw my hair up in a bun and put on my jacket and shoes, taking a few extra minutes to wrap my mind around facing my mom.

On the way there, I sat in the back seat of the cop car with Detective Argiro, half-listening while he attempted to give me life advice.

We got to the Upper West Side station house, and my mom showed up shortly after.

She looked tired, but to my surprise she was very calm.

Without talking, we embraced each other tightly and she asked me, “How are you doing?”

All the anxiety and guilt I was feeling washed away in that ­moment.

“I haven’t slept the last few days,” she said to me.

I couldn’t bring myself to say much. I just listened.

“Trust me, honey, I understand. You don’t have to explain anything,” she reassured me. I nodded and felt myself tearing up.

“An investigator told me you might be stripping. Even if you’re a stripper, you’re gonna be the best stripper out there,” she said to me.

I laughed and felt grateful for her support. And of course, that stripper tip wasn’t true.

I still don’t know how the cops found me. My mom and the police never said.

It’s now been over three weeks since I went off the grid, and I’ve learned a lot from my experience.

I realize now that I don’t need to prove anything to anyone else or myself. School isn’t for me, and I’m OK with that.

There are a lot of different things I would like to work on and ­develop now. I want to make and produce music and work on my writing.

I want to continue my modeling career and see if I can make money doing freelance gigs. I’m back in touch with my friends and family, but I’m not going back to how things used to be.

I’m going to keep living in my new apartment and have no plans to go back to school again. I always told myself I needed to find gratification through academia, but now I want to find it on my own through the arts.

I finally broke down because I was living a life I thought I should be living instead of living the life I want.

Source: NY Post

EarHustle411 and the writing staff can most certainly understand being frustrated and overwhelmed and not knowing what to do to make things better.  What we cannot understand is to drop from sight and not let anyone know your whereabouts and the people that truly care about you are worried to no end about you.   After reading Nayla’s explanation, to say that what she did was the right thing to do is not something that could be agreed upon because we know that as parents we try to do what is in the best interest of our children, they may not always understand why we do what we do.  We don’t know the feeling of having a missing child but we do know Nayla’s mother endured a horrible 2 weeks not knowing where her child was.  That’s a feeling no parent should ever have to experience. 

Share your thoughts, was this a selfish act? We want to know what you think. 

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