Jon Mark Beilue: WT Was Money for

May 9, 2019

WT Was Money for 'Khash'

From New Jersey via Boys Ranch, Wilson made his mark

By JON MARK BEILUE

Khashari Wilson remembered sitting in a middle school class when a teacher told them they would be graduating high school in 2015, and that date would be here quicker than they thought.

“I thought, ‘Man, I may not even be on this earth in 2015,’” Wilson said.

It was not that far-fetched. Wilson has spent most of his young life abused and neglected by his mother and boyfriend in Maplewood, N.J. There was always punishment, always another beating.

At age 10, Child Protective Services recused him from the daily ordeal. As a foster child, he spent time with three families. That’s not ideal, but better than what it was.

Then, an aunt gained custody giving Wilson, he said, a chance to develop and get his life on track. Still, it was not going to be easy. The challenges were many, the odds were long. Khash Wilson

Improbable though it may have seemed at one time, nearly a decade later and some 1,700 miles from what was once home, Khashari Wilson – “Khash” to those who know him – didn’t just get his high school diploma. He graduates from West Texas A&M University on May 11 with a degree in corporate communication and a minor in social work.

“There was a point in my life where I didn’t think I’d make it and to graduate from college, it’s awesome,” Wilson said. “I’m definitely proud of myself, but I didn’t do it alone. I had support the whole way since I came to Texas.”

Since he came to Texas. All Wilson knew of Texas was what he saw on television in New Jersey – the stereotypical cowboys on horseback, spurs that jingled-jangled-jingled, and the lone prairie.

He arrived at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch at age 16. Culture shock certainly. He saw cattle for the first time in his life and trucks were everywhere. That summer, in preparation for the Boys Ranch rodeo, he rode a bull. But only once.

Wilson was not a rebel. He was the product of a dysfunctional home life who was saved by an aunt. She could only take him so far. In their search for help, they connected with Boys Ranch.

“I just jumped right in,” he said. “Once they dropped me off there, no one knew who I was. I was just going to start over and be the best I could be. I just jumped right in and embraced it.”

Wilson came at the end of his sophomore year in 2013. He was a linebacker and fullback in football and wrestled where he was third in the state at 170 pounds as a senior.

But more importantly, he discovered a faith in Christ for the first time. Within that, Boys Ranch chaplain Mike Wilhelm, one Sunday, preached a sermon on forgiveness. Over Thanksgiving break, he went back to New Jersey and saw his mother. He forgave her for the past, which removed a weight he didn’t know he had.

“My time at Boys Ranch was the best,” he said, “and I made the best of it.”

He even got the nickname there of “Khash,” which he had never been called before. Now, he doesn’t go by anything else.

He hadn’t put too much though into college, only that he wanted to go. With the help of a Boys Ranch counselor, he applied and was accepted to WT, Oklahoma Panhandle State, Sam Houston State and Monmouth College in New Jersey.

But this area that he’d only seen on TV just three years before felt like home. He wanted to stay.  So after graduation from Boys Ranch in 2015, he headed to WT, fortified by the Cal and Mimi Farley Scholarship.

He was like most freshmen, learning time management, how to manage money, how to study. But this was the next major step in a redemptive life. Wilson was going to treat WT like he did Boys Ranch.

Embrace it.

Wilson wanted to be involved – and he was. But that all had a common theme, and that was helping others. In a way, it was a combination of paying it forward like he got at Boys Ranch, and in another, it was making up for the kind of help he missed early in life.

Peer Leadership, SAGE (Students Assisting Good Endeavors), Maroon Platoon and being a resident assistant fulfilled his need to help others and fit his personality. Away from campus, he’s been a youth leader at Summit Church in Canyon.

“Kash is so outgoing,” said Darcy Webber, administrative assistant for the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership. “He’s one of those people who can make anyone feel welcome and loved by his presence. You don’t feel like an outsider even if he just met you. He was accepting of everyone.”

And everyone is most accepting of Wilson. A decade before, he was abused in a New Jersey home, moved to different foster families, and in 2017, Wilson was on the turf of Kimbrough Stadium as the crowned Homecoming King at WT.

Khash Wilson is homecoming king 2017.

Who could write that?

“I found out at WT who I need to be, who I want to be,” he said. “WT offered me so much and given me so many opportunities that I thought I would never have when I was younger.”

Wilson will begin work soon fulltime as a recruiter from WT in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Much of his pitch will be his story of how he got to Canyon, and how the University changed him.

Talking to, encouraging others, it’s what Wilson does. As children’s pastor at Summit, Webber has seen it up close.

“He will tell our youth they have a choice in life, and that choice is theirs,” she said. “You can choose one path or you can choose another and beat the odds like he did. He doesn’t give them an excuse.”

Do you know of a student, faculty member, project, an alumni member or any other story idea for “WT: The Heart and Soul of the Texas Panhandle?” If so, email Jon Mark Beilue at jbeilue@wtamu.edu.

—WTAMU—


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