Class of 2024 | Discovering Strength in Adversity

May 15, 2024
Hunter Pinke '24 was named to the Academic All-America Second Team and graduated this year with his Master of Real Estate Development
Hunter Pinke '24
Class of 2024
Hunter Pinke, an man using a wheelchair, holds two basketballs in both hands outstretched.

Hunter Pinke seemed to have it all. He had a supportive family, a spot on the University of North Dakota’s football team, and was on his way to achieving his bachelors of science in Mechanical Engineering.

When Hunter suffered an injury that left him a chest-down paraplegic, he should have lost everything. 

Just one conversation with Hunter will leave you knowing that isn’t true. 

Hunter’s story is one of resilience, faith, and optimism and that story led him to CAPLA, where he graduated with his master's degree in real estate development earlier this spring. 

“I had always been interested in architecture and real estate from a young age. My family owns a home construction company, so I had grown up around it,” shares Hunter. 

Hunter’s three years as a student at CAPLA have been fulfilling and rewarding.

“I feel like I've grown not only my knowledge, but also gained confidence in my abilities and skills because of the experiences that I've been able to be a part of,” Hunter said.

Hunter aims to use his degree to contribute to his family’s business and feels prepared to do so.

“This program gives its students a really well-rounded education into various aspects of the development process. This program has given me the tools I need to go into each new project with confidence knowing I can help in many ways,” Hunter said.  

Hunter described his experience with the UArizona Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team as life changing. 

“We won over 100 games in my three years here and made it to back-to-back national championship games, but the best part of playing collegiate athletics was the relationships I made,” Hunter said. “The trophies will stay in the trophy case. The wins will stay in the record book. But the relationships I made; I'll get to take with me the rest of my life.” 

There were many late nights and assignments submitted on the road, but Hunter didn’t just balance school with basketball. He excelled in it.

Hunter was named to the 2024 Academic All-America Second Team by the Intercollegiate Division of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA), which he shared was very special to him. He served as team captain for two years and felt a responsibility to set a strong example for his teammates. 

“I was taught early in my career that as a student-athlete you are expected to be a great person, be a great student, and be a great athlete. And to do those in that order,” Hunter said. “So for me to get recognized in that way, it was really rewarding.”

Hunter’s life was on one path and his injury has sent him on another. Through it all, he remains motivated and an inspiration to those he meets.

“I was a pretty thankful guy before my accident, but I'm thankful in an entirely new way after it. I'm thankful for the little things now. Air in my lungs, a clear and sharp mind that allows me to pursue passions, hands that now serve a new purpose in helping me get around,” Hunter said. “I would say my accident made me grateful for what I have and in turn, that gratefulness has made me a better person.

For more on Hunter’s story, visit


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