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Walled Lake Consolidated Schools

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Darlene Hunter (Western '00)

Darlene Hunter (Western '00)

Darlene Hunter graduated from Walled Lake Western in 2000. Outside of the classroom, she participated in marching band and middle school track. She also participated in sports outside of WLCSD where she found wheelchair-accessible options like basketball.

Fast forward to 2020, Hunter was the captain of the 2020 Paralympic wheelchair team which took the bronze medal. She was also a gold medalist in the 2016 Paralympic games, took 4th place in the 2012 Paralympic games. in 2017, she was named an Everyday Hero at the ESPNW Women + Sports Summit.

Her studies after high school included a BA from the University of Arizona, two masters from the University of Texas Arlington, and a Ph.D. from Texas Woman’s University. She participated on the Adaptive Track Team and Women’s Wheelchair Basketball teams throughout.

Darlene really enjoyed her time in the Walled Lake School District. She said: “My most memorable time was in middle school with Bob Meyer and Jeff Penrod. They really made sure that I was a part of the school’s community. They were my track coaches and included me in the track season. Also, because of these two teachers, I was able to go on the 8th grade class trip to Washington D.C.  Mr. Meyer and Mr. Penrod carried me and my wheelchair to make sure that I could have the same experience. There are not too many people that would make such a stand for a student to be included on a trip like this and take full responsibility. It really impacted me as a child and still to today. It was the first time that I really felt included and not someone with a disability. It is important to have people like this in your life and, especially, in the school system. Teachers that go the extra mile to make you feel included, when they do not have to, because of the extra accommodations. These two teachers went far beyond what anyone ever expected and that is why they have such an impact on their students, years later."

Darlene Hunter in her Team USA gear

Darlene is an assistant professor in social work at the University of Texas in Arlington and the co-owner of HCB Digital which helps educational institutions design and manage online programs and online spaces. As professional educators, they apply principles of learning sciences to the creation of strong, high-quality programs for K-12 through post-graduate education especially for adult learners, they emphasize the power of interaction, the hallmark of online education.

In her time away from work and basketball training, Darlene likes to relax by watching movies, reading, or hanging out with friends and family. She has also served on many Boards and Associations including Board Member for Arlington’s Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities, Athlete Representative for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, and United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and President of the Southwest Wheelchair & Ambulatory Athletic Association.

Darlene’s advice to students is to take advantage of every moment and opportunity, you never know where it may lead. Believe in yourself and do what makes you happy. It is your life, so enjoy it.