‘We Thought This Was the Best Way to Honor Him’: Friends Share Story Behind a Scholarship Emphasizing Entrepreneurship
You are here
The Greer Scholarship memorializes an alumnus whose creativity and passion left a deep impression on campus, at work and among pals.
When you ask Paul DeRemer for stories about his friend Jonathan Greer, he’s quick to bring up a long weekend skiing with his best friends from college.
“It was this fun moment of time maybe 10 years out of college, just before we all started having kids,” said DeRemer (Fin’02), now founder and principal consultant of New York-based Kaleidoscope Advisory. “I still keep a picture of it here to remember it.”
The memory is important because one of the friends in that photo, Jonathan Greer (Bus’03), died unexpectedly at 38. Some of his closest friends—including DeRemer and Ben Paull (Acct, Fin’03)—and his family created and funded the Jonathan Greer Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund to honor their friend’s passion for CU Boulder, interest in entrepreneurship and love for others.
“Jonathan was one of the most creative people out there,” said Paull, chief financial officer of Ribbit Capital. “He was always thinking about what ideas would actually impact and change the world. We thought this was the best way to honor him while doing something he would feel great about—being remembered in a way that’s not just about him, but about helping others, which was really who he was.”
A catalyst ‘to take a risk and build something’
The Greer scholarship has been awarded annually since 2020 to a Leeds student interested in entrepreneurship. While Greer was not a founder, he brought an entrepreneurial approach to solving problems in finance; DeRemer thought it would be “amazing” to see a Leeds student embrace the same perspective his friend brought to the business world.
“It would be great if, ultimately, this gift was a sort of catalyst to allow someone to take a risk and build something,” he said.
Talk with Greer’s friends and you quickly get a sense of him and his gregarious personality, from being a baseball coach and family man to a Green Bay Packers devotee. Paull and DeRemer shared laughs as they recalled the ski trip, which coincided with the Packers’ trip to the Super Bowl. They watched it at the hotel, surrounded by Steelers fans.
Throughout the first half, Paull recalled, hotel guests were inching their chairs further from the group as Greer loudly cheered the team on.
“Jonathan brought so much love and passion to whatever we did,” DeRemer said. “He always brought a huge personality to everything he did.”
Knowing some of Greer’s story is what makes earning this scholarship so special. Tasha Smith (Strat, Entrep’23), this year’s recipient, said she enjoyed the opportunity to meet with DeRemer and Paull to understand the person whose memory the gift honors.
“It was not only a chance to understand why they created this scholarship, but also to get a little bit of career advice to help me in the future,” said Smith, who’s exploring a range of job possibilities in project management, marketing and user experience.
A recipient who embodies Greer’s values
Many students say scholarships offer some freedom from working, allowing them to more closely focus on classes or extracurriculars. DeRemer, for instance, said scholarships offered him the opportunity to work with Paull and restart a finance club at CU, which both men called a formative experience. Smith, however, is interning with Mission Zero and working at the CU Environmental Center while carrying a full load of extracurriculars, including president of CU Boulder’s chapter of The Women’s Network.
“In Tasha’s case, I remember leaving our discussion with her and thinking, ‘Wow, I don’t think I was doing half that much stuff when I was at CU,’” Paull said. “It was touching to hear how seriously she was taking this opportunity.”
Scholarship winners, he added, “are always excited to hear about Jonathan. It’s amazing to hear their stories and how we can help them—but in a way they’re living through him, too.”
Smith doesn’t consider herself an entrepreneur—though if you ask her, she’ll tell you her dream job would be to blend her interests in business and art to create her own fashion line. But she’s had to think like one in developing The Women’s Network. It’s the only Colorado chapter among 150 national chapters; she cherishes the opportunity to help women at CU develop career-related skills and to connect them with female professionals across the country.
“I’m really grateful for how the scholarship supports me in taking on responsibilities like The Women’s Network or the Climate Action Expo, which I’m also a part of,” she said. “Jonathan sounds like he was an amazing person, and getting the opportunity to honor his memory is very special to me.”
For DeRemer, that’s what it’s all about.
“Scholarships create this living thing. Each year, into perpetuity, people who earn this scholarship will know his name,” he said. “So every year, we’ll meet someone who will receive this scholarship, carry it forward and be touched by Jonathan in some small way. For us to be a part of that, and to see his legacy go out there into the world, means we’ll never forget him.”