Alumna Gerie Grimes has spent her entire life giving back to the community.

Gerie Grimes in the classroomNot long after you meet Gerie Grimes a famous quote from Mahatma Gandhi comes to mind: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

“My parents always talked about giving back,” Grimes said, “and about how you can do little things in the world to give back.”

That generous spirit was nurtured during Grimes’ time at MSU Denver. She came to the University straight out of high school in 1968. Then love and life interrupted her studies: She married and had kids before ultimately returning in 1979, albeit with a full-time job and two small children at home.

Grimes loved the convenience of night classes, the affordability, and that MSU Denver welcomed older students. She remembers running to every class — back then classrooms were spread all over downtown. She also hasn’t forgotten how the University transformed her life.

“At Metro I started taking on leadership positions and getting active. I joined the black student alliance and that got me interested in policy and I learned how important a voice can be at the table. It’s easy to complain, so you have to get involved.”

She has certainly gotten involved at her alma mater. She’s a longtime financial donor and has served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors since 2005, serving as president twice; she worked on the selection committee that brought current president Stephen Jordan here. She was the first alumna to have a seat on the school’s Board of Trustees. She’s been honored for her commitment with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Outstanding Women’s Award and the University’s MLK Peace Award.

All well-deserved according to Cherrelyn Napue, former associate vice president of development and alumni relations at MSU Denver. “She’s one of the hardest working women I’ve ever known,” Napue said. “She’s a change agent and activist for young people. She’s committed to her community and always working to make things better.”

Of her many accomplishments, Grimes is most proud of “being an African American woman and sharing my voice and representing that community.”

Today, Grimes is the president and CEO of the Hope Center, a school for preschoolers and adults with disabilities that’s also celebrating its 50th anniversary. She started there in 1982 as a bookkeeper and has helped thousands of families in the Denver metro area.

“Whenever you can help someone that’s when you feel like you’re doing the right thing.”