Oklahoma Christian University lost a beloved student and friend on Christmas morning with the death of Aliyah Masumbu, a 19-year-old sophomore criminal justice student from Wichita, KS. She died unexpectedly from an asthma attack.
Masumbu sang in the university chorale and was involved on campus as a member of Theta Theta Theta. More importantly, friends characterized her as a positive, bright spirit who loved the Lord.
Alexis Robinson, Masumbu’s friend and Theta sister, said Masumbu was a woman of character with a heart for God.
“We lost an angel,” Robinson said. “She was probably one of the best people I have met. She was sweet, gentle and never said anything cruel about a person. She told me she went through some really hard times before she came to Oklahoma Christian, but she was still so positive and believed in God despite what happened.”
Chaselynn Stephens, Masumbu’s friend and freshman roommate, said Masumbu was a caring individual.
“She was super selfless,” Stephens said. “Whether it was Theta, friends or family, she was always there. That’s the type of person she was. She was always about other people.”
Robinson said Masumbu brought out the best in others.
“She changed me,” Robinson said. “I just remember being aggressive with people last semester. When I started talking to [Aliyah], I realized, ‘Lexi, you have to be more gentle.’”
Both Robinson and Stephens emphasized Masumbu’s joyful spirit which encouraged them to embrace themselves.
“She encouraged me to do things I really wanted to do,” Robinson said. I really love to dance, so Aliyah would say, ‘Lexi, if you want to dance, you might as well just dance.’ She made me realize my passions and told me not to be afraid of them. She wasn’t afraid to do what made her happy.”
“Aliyah was always herself,” Stephens said. “There was nothing about her that wasn’t 100% genuine. I would think, ‘I’m worried to wear my hair like this,’ and she would say, ‘Well, who’s going to whoop about it if you do?’ The way she loved her life made it obvious how she knew who she was in Christ and that is who she was going to be.”
In addition, Masumbu loved to express her joy through dance.
“‘Why be moody when you could shake your booty’: that was her motto,” Robinson said.
While Masumbu would initially come off as a quiet individual, Stephens said she had a huge personality.
“The second day I got to know Aliyah, she was crazy and loud, dancing everywhere,” Stephens said. “Dancing and singing was her thing.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 7, Oklahoma Christian students hosted a candlelight service to remember Aliyah’s life and the impact she had on the community. Her family traveled from Kansas to join the memorial.
Derek Tinius, Masumbu’s uncle, shared a message of hope with the gathering of students and faculty.
“[Our presence here] is a testimony to the fact that we have hope,” Tinius said. “We have something to look forward to. Our faith in God stands for something. For that reason, we don’t mourn the way the world mourns because we know this isn’t the end. We know something better is coming: we know where [Aliyah] is, and we look forward to that day.”
In an interview with the Talon, Tinius expressed the loving and faithful nature of his niece.
“She loved God and she loved life,” Tinius said. “If anything stood out in her life, it was her desire to see people happy. She would reach out to those who may not fit in because that was something important to her.”
Tinius said Masumbu had a positive and carefree outlook on life.
“Aliyah’s mom told me something Aliyah recently said,” Tinius said. “Aliyah would say, ‘[I am] done trying to worry about tomorrow; I am just going to focus on things today.’”