Building Community at DU and Beyond
At this year’s Black Male Initiative Summit, Gianni Di Cioccio witnessed a moment he will carry with him when he graduates with his MA from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies later today. It was the talent show portion of the day. A kid came up on stage and said he was going to freestyle. “He was king of bobbing his head, and he said, ‘My parents recently got divorced and I haven’t told anybody, and I’m sad,’” Di Cioccio recalls. “As he came off the stage, kids were coming up to him, giving him hugs and it was just this moment.”
Watching that kid share something so personal with 250 strangers — teenagers no less — was powerful to Di Cioccio, in part because he helped make that moment possible. As chairman of the Black Male Initiative Summit, this was exactly the environment he had hoped to create for the day. “It was really important for me to be involved, because I knew how important it was when I was growing up to have strong male influences in my life, like my father and my grandfather,” he says.
Those influences have been a driving force behind Di Cioccio’s entire time at DU, from application to graduation. It was his grandfather who first stoked Di Cioccio’s passion for international relations. He had been an ambassador to Kenya and the Seychelles, and received his PhD in international relations from none other than DU. “When applying I was faced with the decision between a few schools in D.C. or Korbel, and it came down to trying to continue the legacy my grandfather started, and following in his footsteps,” Di Cioccio says. “I got into [international studies] from the same perspective my grandfather had, in that the basis of all the things he was doing was to improve the lives of those around him.”