Every time someone talks about Khalid McCalla, their eyes light up as they describe moments where McCalla was there for them, as a friend, partner, brother, and son.
College fourth-year Malachi Clemons met Khalid during preseason their first-year, he remembers the day by heart, August 15th 2017.
“He was just as spry and as lovable as he is today.”
Clemons went on to live with Khalid and is grateful for his life-lasting friendship that played an important role in his Oberlin experience. He also made sure to note Khalid’s true height.
“I know he’s 5’7 and not 5’10,” said Clemons. “And I love him to death, he’s someone I consider to be a brother for life.”
College fourth-year Grace Brennan also met Khalid during preseason when he helped her move in, and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
“Khalid was the first person I met at Oberlin ever,” she said. “ I was trying to move all my stuff into Dascomb, but there was no one else around to help because it was preseason and I just saw Khalid and he asked if I needed help. He helped me bring up all my stuff. And once we realized that we were neighbors, I decided that this was my best friend ever, and that I would never leave his side, and we just kind of went from there.”
College fourth-year Mara Delta emphasizes that it’s hard not to love Khalid when you meet him.
“He’s one of those people who you’ll never meet people who don’t like him,” she said. “He’s just such a kind, loving, warm person that you can’t help but like him.”
Time and time again, Khalid’s friends shared stories about their favorite moments with him, ranging from traveling across New York City in search of used books, to taking a pole dancing lesson for the Review, and smaller moments, spending time together and cracking jokes for hours on end. Friends and family described Khalid as a fantastic friend, someone who is insightful, kind, funny, energetic, and persistent.
Jane Agler (OC’20), former Sports Editor of The Oberlin Review emphasized that Khalid inspires others to be the best version of themselves.
“When you’re around him, he makes you want to be a better person because you can see potential in yourself when you’re with him,” she said. “He is one of those people who doesn’t demand anything from others, and he doesn’t make it hard for you to receive and give love and support.”
Brennan also touched upon the loyalty towards friends that Khalid holds, and the importance of their friendship to her time at Oberlin.
“He’s shaped my Oberlin experience in such a profound way,” said Brennan. “He was the first friend to meet my parents and grandparents, and one of the only ones to meet my entire family. He’s been with me throughout the years, I love him so much.”
On top of changing lives for the better at Oberlin, he is also a beloved son to Carl McCalla and Sheryl McCalla and brother to his younger siblings Lauren McCalla, Christopher McCalla, and Naiya McCalla.
“Khalid has set a standard of communication and excellence that I think that they [Khalid’s siblings] all strive for,” said Carl McCalla. “In the house, they [Khalid’s siblings] give him endless grief but they love him because he’s lovable. He’s caring, supportive, and helps them navigate the parental waters that don’t always make sense to them. He’s set a standard of being socially conscious, aware, and never quit attitude. They look forward to having him around and we all miss him.”
Lauren discussed some of the things that make Khalid a fantastic brother.
“He is a great brother because he cares about his family and friends and puts them before others and himself,” said Lauren.
When he is home, Khalid spends significant time with his family, sometimes losing to Christopher at video games.
“One of my favorite memories with him is playing video games on the Xbox with him, and he always beats me,” he said. But this one time I won, and I was so happy.”
Khalid is someone who is always there for his family, as he made sure not to miss Naiya McCalla’s first theater performance in New York City.
“It’s annoying how good of a brother he is,” she said. “My freshman year, he flew to New York for a few days just to be able to see my very first show in the City.”
Carl McCalla had difficulty choosing a favorite memory that he had with Khalid but highlighted times that illustrated Khalid’s drive and determination no matter the circumstances.
“Khalid played football for years and in high school he had a pretty significant injury on the field. He had dislocated his shoulder badly and we had to wrestle it back into place. Just to show you the kind of competitive spirit that he has, after we put it back, he dropped down on the field and did about 10-15 pushups and said that he wanted to go back into the game. That’s the kind of drive that keeps him going”
Carl McCalla also fondly remembered some times from Khalid’s early life.
“When he was much younger and somehow he managed to get his finger caught in the cord for the window blinds, and just couldn’t get free,” he said. “Khalid just sat there patiently trying to figure it out, and he let me work through it and get him out of the window blinds. It reminded me of when he was a baby and his mom and I tried to let him cry things out at night. The kid just wouldn’t give up, he cried until he was dripping in sweat, and we had to come see him, and ultimately he won. At the end of the day, he’s a winner because of his strong spirit and nature.”
As Khalid nears the end of the college, Carl McCalla wants Khalid to remember one thing:
“We love you, we believe in you, be yourself always and the world will benefit.”