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MSU Denver alum Eric Papadeas stays connected and transforms lives

By Lynne Winter ‘17

Since graduating in 1979, Metropolitan State University of Denver management alum Hercules ‘Eric’ Papadeas makes it a priority to stay connected to his Roadrunner family – despite living over 700 miles away from campus.

The oldest of four siblings, Papadeas wanted to continue his education close to home after graduating from high school and attended MSU Denver for a year. A friend convinced him to transfer to the University of Wyoming the following fall, but he returned to MSU Denver after breaking his leg while skiing at Copper Mountain.  

“I thought about studying dentistry or engineering, but decided on management,” said Papadeas. “My dad didn’t graduate from high school, but he worked hard and I learned a lot from him about business. Going into the field was a natural fit for me.”

What followed were fun-filled years making friends, hanging out in the student union and racing between buildings in true Roadrunner spirit to take business classes. “Attending MSU Denver was a great experience,” he said. “The professors made a point to illustrate how the information we were learning in class would apply in the real world.”

The experience turned an ambitious young man into an entrepreneur. Papadeas has spent over 25 years protecting homes and commercial properties in and around the east valley of metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, from the threat of ants, roaches, scorpion infestation and more, with his locally-loved business, Pest’R Us Exterminating.

He also spends his time supporting causes that are close to his heart, including the students and programs at MSU Denver – something he has been doing for over 25 years. Just this year, he joined the President’s Society. “It is important to me to support a culture of philanthropy and kindness,” said Papadeas. “People will remember what you did and how you treated them.”

Student callers in the Reach-a-Roadrunner Call Center are always delighted when Papadeas takes time out of his busy day to talk with them about his MSU Denver experience and share his generous, positive attitude. He also joined the Alumni Association in this year in Scottsdale, Arizona, for Colorado Rockies spring training and hopes to make it back to campus soon for a basketball game.

“I am fortunate that I am in the position to give, but service to others in a volunteering fashion is what drives me,” said Papadeas. “We have a duty to do what we can for others, and I want to make sure kids have an opportunity to receive an education.” 

“Dreams do come true if you reach for the stars!”

Op-Ed: Why I Give Back

By Lynne Winter ‘17

It was a cold and snowy day in 2013 when I found myself at one of life’s crossroads. I was afraid to drive to work because the tires on my car were nearly bald, but I couldn’t afford to replace them. Against my better judgment, I headed out, hoping I’d make it in time for my shift at a store where I’d worked unhappily for 12 years.

The first hill I faced made a mockery of my car – the tires spun as I struggled to gain the traction I needed to move forward or turn around. I got off the road and frantically called work to let them know I’d be late. When I finally arrived, I learned that our parent company was liquidating our store. I hated my job, but the thought of change was unnerving and I had no idea how I was going to provide for my family.

I started working in retail in 1993. After earning my B.A. in English from the University of Colorado at Denver in the late 90s, I made the leap to retail management. For twenty years, I was unsatisfied with the work I did. I yearned for purpose and knew my only choice was to go back to school. At the time, my son was in high school excelling in physics and math classes, and I wanted to be able to connect in some way to what he was learning, so I chose to major in environmental science. When it came to picking a school, I knew MSU Denver was the right choice for me.

I immersed myself in campus culture – first as a T.A. for a biology lab, then as a tutor. I sat at the front of the class, asked questions, studied like crazy and made sure my professors knew who I was. As nervous as I’d been to start back, I was not alone. Many of my classmates were in similar situations and were also looking for a brighter future by earning a degree.

After being at the University for more than a year, I applied to work in the Reach-a-Roadrunner Call Center. There was no way I could have known how the initial interview would change my life. The job terrified me – cold-calling alumni to talk and ask for money – but I needed a second job to make ends meet. It was scary and exhilarating. Every day, there was at least one alum who was willing to talk about their experience at MSU Denver and share a part of their lives with me.

Working in the call center, I came to understand the impact giving makes on students. I learned about programs and scholarships that made it possible for someone to create the life they wanted for themselves and their families. I spoke with alumni who told me that MSU Denver accepted them when no other school would, and it transformed their lives. The experience connected me to the alumni, students and the University.

A year later, I began working in University Advancement and the following year, I became a full-time staff member. I have the privilege to speak with donors, students, alumni, faculty and staff members about the ways MSU Denver has impacted their lives and then, communicate their stories to the larger community. It is an awesome responsibility.

Knowing how the University transforms lives inspired me to fill out payroll deduction paperwork within a month of being hired. During my first year, I gave exclusively to the Chelsie Worth Celebration Scholarship. The following year, I increased my gift and split my monthly contribution between the scholarship and the Family Literacy Project – a program I was introduced to by Jeff Peierls when I interviewed him for the Roadrunner Development Report.

Earning a degree at MSU Denver changed everything for my family and me. I am deeply indebted to the people who presented me with opportunities to grow and develop my skills – and continue to do so. They model the passion required of those who work in and support higher education. I am proud to follow their example and give back to the institution that has given me the life I always wanted.  

Lynne Winter (environmental science '17) is the engagement coordinator and advancement writer for MSU Denver University Advancement. 

Year-End Giving

Your generosity transforms the lives of students, families and the community. As the end of the year quickly approaches, there are many ways to make a gift and impact the future of students and programs at MSU Denver. Thank you for making it possible for our students to achieve the American dream of earning a degree.  

Gifts Made by Credit Card

In the interest of your security and ours, we highly advise that you DO NOT send credit card numbers in the mail.

Gifts can be made online with this secure link—Make a Gift. There, you have the option of designating your gift to the scholarship, department or program of your choice.

Credit card donations need to be processed on or before December 31st to have a 2018 tax receipt date. The tax date used for online credit card transactions is when the transaction is entered online. Envelopes containing credit card info received in 2019 will be entered and receipted in 2019, regardless of the envelope’s postmark.

Gifts Made by Check

Mail is not delivered during the holiday break. Checks received during that week will not be deposited until January. A donor who prefers to pay by check must have their envelope postmarked in 2018 to receive a 2018 tax receipt. 

Please send checks to our campus address:

          MSU Denver Foundation

          Campus Box 14

          PO Box 173362

          Denver, CO 80217-3362 

Gifts Made with ‘Green Cash’

‘Green cash’ or currency/coin contributions must be delivered to our office before January 4, 2019, with appropriate documentation attached to indicate the gift was made in 2018.

Gifts Made with Stocks, Bonds and Other Marketable Securities

Investment securities must be in the possession of BNY Mellon, our investment manager, on or before December 31st for 2018 tax receipt. December securities gifts MUST be readily marketable. Securities gifts that are not readily marketable require Foundation Board approval before acceptance.

For more information about how you can transform lives at MSU Denver with an end-of-year gift visit Year-End Giving or contact the MSU Denver Foundation directly at 303-615-0065 or