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.”
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.