Family and faculty reflect on Deandre Hunter’s ‘big heart’ and passion for research – The Daily Evergreen

Deandre Hunter’s accidental death confirmed Friday night

This spring, Deandre Hunter was promoted to McNair Scholar at WSU — and said it was truly the happiest time of his life.

Throughout her college experience, Hunter, a double major in junior psychology and human development, has championed mental health in underrepresented communities, worked toward her dream of earning a doctorate, and become a role model for her family. .

Nicole O’Haver, Hunter’s mother, said he had the biggest heart of anyone she had ever met. He was ready for anything for his siblings and nephews, who thought he was “the knees of the bee”, she said.

“He found his purpose at WSU. He grew up as a young man,” she said. “He overcame so many obstacles while he was here at school. His experience here transformed him into who he was the day he died, and he was someone I was so proud of and someone his siblings could look up to. I think coming here certainly has a lot to do with that, in his experiences with McNair and with [his] fraternity. Being part of the campus community has really given her purpose.

At 6:40 p.m. Friday, detectives from the Pullman Police Department and the Whitman County Coroner’s Office confirmed the death of Hunter, 25, was accidental. Earlier this morninghe was shot in the abdomen in the parking lot of the Pimlico Apartments.

This year, Hunter brought hope and humor to his cohort of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Scholars Program, said Raymond Herrera, program director and associate dean of graduate studies.

From the moment he met Hunter during a Zoom interview for the program, Herrera said he was impressed. Hunter was in his car, trying to get away from his “noisy” housemates and focus on the interview. Hunter jokingly described his situation, but Herrera said it was an example of his careful approach to research and academics.

Manee Moua, associate director of the McNair Scholars program, said Hunter wanted to endure the rigorous program to eventually provide mentorship to young people, especially young black men.

Moua would often find Hunter in the program’s “den” at all times of the day, studying and asking questions, she said.

During his seminar class, Moua brought in a senior student to give a presentation for first-year McNair Fellows as an example and reiterated Hunter’s interest and enthusiasm for the project. He asked critical questions and was inspired to continue to conduct his own research, she said.

“I think every moment, for him, was a learning moment,” Moua said. “[He was] still just eager to learn and absorb all those things that will help his future. I don’t know how else to put it into words. He was just always ready. Just ready to learn and always receptive to any feedback I would give him.

In March, Moua said Hunter was willing to speak with future Cougs at a drop-in event for the program when no one else had volunteered – braving throngs of families at 8 a.m. to talk about his WSU experience. Students gravitated to him and his sense of pride and belonging to the program, she said.

Whether it’s chatting with students, becoming a chaplain for the Phi Delta Theta fraternity or attending his sister’s 16th birthday party last week, O’Haver said Hunter’s presence among the people was the quality he lacked the most.

“The energy just changes when he walks into a room. It’s something that was so powerful about him when he walked in – like the party had started,” she said.

Although he had struggled with bipolar disorder since age 7, he wanted to use his experiences to help others on their mental health journeys, O’Haver said.

Moua said Hunter was looking forward to becoming a principal investigator on the program. He planned to attend the program’s summer institute this year to present at his first conference and explore future doctoral programs.

Every time they spoke, Moua said Hunter’s excitement was contagious. He constantly checked in with Moua whether he was “doing well” or not, and Moua always reminded him that he was thriving and “doing good”.

O’Haver said Hunter’s passion and drive to succeed started in kindergarten through his love of basketball. He spent hours shooting hoops and she had to drag him inside. Hunter even played Amateur Athletic Union basketball in junior college.

Herrera said Hunter always tried to improve in different facets of his life and took on challenges like the McNair Scholars program.

“He will definitely be missed,” he said. “He was such a bright and rising star. There just aren’t many words that can truly express what he meant to us.

Hunter’s family is planning a service next week for his family, friends and teachers to gather at Corbeill Funeral Homes in Pullman.