Henderson crosses the world


Mahmoud Henderson

Mahmoud Henderson poses for a photo in Saudi Arabia.//photo courtesy of Mahmoud Henderson

Mahmoud Henderson, a senior and 5’8” track and field student-athlete at Guilford College, is a very unique member of the Guilford community. “Moody,” as he is referred to by his friends, has traveled all the way from Saudi Arabia to attend Guilford College, where he is working toward obtaining a degree in sport management. People frequently ask him how he ended up at Guilford from all the way across the world. Henderson’s parents both grew up around different parts of North Carolina and met while they both attended North Carolina A&T University before moving to Saudi Arabia to have a family. He heard the stories his parents told about the area and came to visit family members on trips occasionally, stumbling across Guilford College in the process.

He had not been very involved in track and field due to the lack of equipment and facilities where he grew up. He mainly played basketball throughout his childhood. However, seeing that he was always naturally athletic, he wanted to put his athleticism to the test. He specifically runs in the 100 meter, 200 meter and 400 meter dashes, but can run whatever his coach needs at the time, which sometimes means running much longer distances than he would like to.

Although Henderson grew up surrounded by deserts in Saudi Arabia, he is very active in the North Carolina waters. He leads the Guilford College Surf Club, where he takes students that are experienced or not  and teaches them how to surf or helps them improve their skills. He is also actively involved in keeping the waters clean with the Cape Fear River Basin Project. He spent the summer of his sophomore year living in Wilmington, North Carolina ,where he interned under those in charge of the project.

Henderson was not strictly a track and field athlete originally. He was also a member of the 2016-2017 Guilford men’s basketball team that won the ODAC conference championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Henderson credits his athletic success to the Guilford community, because if it was not for the welcoming arms of the teams, he may not have branched out to take part in something he had little to no experience in.

“That’s the beautiful part about Guilford College, the close knit community is much more immersed than many of the other larger colleges in the area,” Henderson said. 

Henderson frequently reflects on the struggles of being a foreigner in America. Not only a foreigner, but African American, Muslim and Saudi Arabian.

“Once people hear the name Mahmoud they instantly ask me to repeat myself, then ask where I am from and about my religion. There are still only a handful of people that can properly pronounce my name, so I’ve started to go by Moody to make things simpler on everybody. Meanwhile, I’ve learned to push through the looks I get when talking about my religion,” Henderson said. “ Because they automatically think negatively about it.”

He speaks very highly about Guilford College, seeing it as a place where he can be himself without worrying about the harsh judgement of others.

“Guilford might be the most accepting place I’ve ever seen,” Henderson said. “I have connected with so many people that I would never have expected to.”

Henderson sees himself as someone that can connect to every aspect of the Guilford community. Not only does he connect with the athletic community, but also the foreign community, Islam community, classmates, faculty and everything in between.

“I have met some of my lifelong best friends here at Guilford College,” Henderson said.

After his time at Guilford College, Henderson hopes to return to Saudi Arabia to help develop a basketball program to train athletes of all ages, potentially starting a professional basketball league in the process. However, he is still open to the idea of staying in North Carolina and spending more time working with the Cape Fear River Basin, as this was an unexpected passion of his that he has gained throughout his time at Guilford College.