GSSE Student, Dustin Greer, Leaves a Legacy of Compassion, Adventure, and Commitment

Dustin Greer

Dustin Greer was a student in the Global Social & Sustainable Enterprise MBA program at Colorado State University.

As CSU students, faculty, and staff get back to their busy schedules this new school year, many of us face the uncertainty and difficulty of doing so without our departed classmate, student, friend, Dustin Greer. The 29-year-old Global Social & Sustainable Enterprise MBA student died in Guatemala in an accident while kayaking on a lake that he considered among his favorite places on this earth. Dustin had been working and traveling in a country that he loved and had embarked on his personal Latin American trek after finishing the fieldwork for a new venture, Mayan Terra.

Classmates from his cohort remember him fondly as they readied themselves for the final semester of their program without a man who had become a member of their GSSE family. This post is a tribute to a fine human being who left this world too soon, but who left it a better place.

Dustin provided many lessons that can serve all of us well on our own short journey on this mortal sphere. His life was short, but he had managed to acquire experience and wisdom beyond his years.  Tenacious and adventurous, Dustin brought to the classroom the same passion that was so evident in everything from his love of the great outdoors to time with friends around a table sharing food and drink.

“Sometimes it feels like people avoid the perceived risk of studying what interests them and choose instead to stay on the well-beaten path,” said Hannah Pechan, classmate. “It was obvious to Dustin that the right things to study are those things that arise your passions – not just what will be on the test.”

Team Mayan Terra in Guatemala

Dustin, with teammates Michelle and Olena, worked on a Guatemalan farm this summer.

Dustin managed to maintain a comfortable balance between a fiery passion for human rights and a seemingly natural, cool demeanor. “Many of us affectionately called Dustin, ‘The Dude’ (a title that made him chuckle) because he was unflappable,” classmate and friend Lincoln Frager wrote in a letter to Dustin’s parents. “While the rest of us may have appeared to be cracking under the considerable strain of our MBA program, we could always count on Dustin to come to class with a confident swagger and a sly smile, as if he knew the punch-line to the joke that the rest of us were missing.”

Dustin loved good food. Whether it was eating breakfast in class, urging a friend to try sushi, or purchasing appetizers at the last cohort gathering outside the classroom before they all departed for summer fieldwork, Dustin left a legacy of building relationships with people over food. Not everyone values the time spent with others while eating meals, but Dustin put effort into activities that often become trivial in everyday life. And he carried on this tradition in Guatemala during his fieldwork over the summer. “Dustin always did little things to let you know he cared,” said Olena Breitman, a classmate who was on Dustin’s venture team in Guatemala. “One evening we needed bread and laundry detergent. Dustin volunteered to go in the rain to get it. He also biked to town to buy coffee so we could have a fresh cup in the morning.”

The cohort will be without their beloved classmate, dear friend, and, when necessary, their backup player for the intramural soccer team. “We were a bit worried that he wasn’t going to show as the game was about to start,” said Hannah Pechan. “And then I looked over and Dustin was trotting onto the field, shin guards, and basketball shorts, ready to join in the nick of time.”

Dustin’s cool confidence and warmth were part of the fabric and culture of the fifth cohort of GSSE students, 21 unique individuals held together by a common passion to change the world. Dustin did so every chance he got. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.

Thanks to all the contributors who made this post possible, including Joanna Larez, Carl Hammerdorfer, and all Dustin’s classmates in the GSSE Program.

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2 Responses to GSSE Student, Dustin Greer, Leaves a Legacy of Compassion, Adventure, and Commitment

  1. Hannah Pechan says:

    Cohort 5 lost one of our beloved, truly loved, members. Dustin Greer died in a kayaking accident at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. It feels shocking to even write those words, to state this loss as fact though it is only beginning to set in. And yet, it is in the stating of the words, however impossible they may seem, that the setting in can begin. And as a team and a cohort, we are encouraged to blog about what we have learned this summer, what has become more tangible and real in these three months. Without any doubt, Dustin’s life has taught me more about the value of this education than any meeting, workshop or seminar. And so, I write these words about Dustin Robert Greer.

    He was such an easy person to be around. Grad school can be a stressful time for people but Dustin seemed to carry it all in stride. I know that I will always remember the presentation he gave in Tom’s class about the rock band starting a sustainable winery. This presentation was one of the last of the year and topics were beginning to mesh together in my well-worn mind. And yet, as Dustin introduced his topic and how he chose it (he was a big fan of the band), I perked up, realizing I would be hearing a story of passion inspiring passion.

    And you know what? I was better, much better, for Dustin having followed his passions. I had heard plenty of the buzzwords and was hungry for information that I wouldn’t stumble upon in my normal path, a path that (unfortunately) does not include rock bands or wineries! Sometimes it feels like people are scared to take risks by studying what interests them instead of just the well-beaten path. I myself had to remind myself over and again that I was in school because I loved these topics! Our purpose in this program, and in life, isn’t to impress or posture, but to show up, smile and introduce others (and be introduced) to passion. Dustin made it seem obvious that the things worth studying are the things that you want to learn more about, can’t help but learn more about – not just what will be on the test.

    -Hannah Pechan

  2. Pingback: My Favorite 5 Posts from 2012 | Make a Difference

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