Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

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Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

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Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

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Distinguished Alumni: Matt DiCianni, Class of 2003

Distinguished+Alumni%3A+Matt+DiCianni%2C+Class+of+2003
Courtesy of Matt DiCanni

This biography is a part of Central Times’ 2024 Distinguished Alumni Ceremony coverage. To see biographies of all of this year’s inductees, click here.

In the hundreds of cases that Matt DiCianni has worked on, one pro-bono case stands out. In El Salvador, a mother and her son harrowingly escaped MS-13, an international criminal gang. They were then granted temporary asylum in the U.S. where they would spend a few years building a life in Chicago. DiCianni represented them in a court hearing on their asylum application, which was decided in favor of the family. DiCianni now credits the case as his proudest achievement as a lawyer.

DiCianni wasn’t born in Naperville, but spent almost all of his childhood here. He first attended Elmwood Elementary School, later moving on to Lincoln Junior High School and eventually Naperville Central. Taking leadership positions from a young age, DiCianni was the school president of Lincoln during his eighth-grade year.

During the summers, DiCianni would frequent the Hobson West pool, where he would eventually find employment as a lifeguard. He also played Little League baseball, youth football, and youth basketball in his early years.

At Central, DiCianni found his home in numerous activities. In 2001, as a junior, DiCianni was a defensive end on the football team that went 13-0 before ultimately falling to Downers Grove South in the IHSA State Championship. DiCianni was elected as president of his Freshman and Sophomore Class Councils. He was also an active member of Central’s speech team, where he participated in the Extemporaneous Speaking event. He credits speech for teaching him “how to present an argument and how to speak coherently and concisely,” which he would later use in his career as a lawyer.

After graduating from Central, DiCianni stayed relatively close to home and attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, majoring in political science and history. 

While at UIUC, DiCianni studied abroad in Granada, Spain. In Spain he met English teachers who influenced him to move abroad and teach English in South Korea. After his time in Korea, he spent about 6 months in Australia, working odd jobs and backpacking. After Australia, he spent almost 5 months visiting “just about every country in Southeast Asia.” Following his jaunt on the eastern side of the globe, he and a friend returned to English teaching, now in Honduras, where he would stay until 2010 when he enrolled in law school.

DiCianni wound up at Notre Dame Law School, where one of his favorite memories as a student was watching the 2013 College Football National Championship game, even though Notre Dame was slaughtered by Alabama 42-14.

After graduating from law school, DiCianni was hired by Ancel Glink—a Chicago area law firm specializing in local governmental law—where he first became involved in labor and employment law. In 2021, DiCianni moved to Cozen O’Connor, his current law firm, where he is an associate. He has been recognized as “one to watch” by Best Lawyers and a “rising star” by the National Immigrant Justice Center.

DiCianni now lives in Lisle with his wife Sophia and his young daughter Olivia.

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About the Contributor
Jay Deegan
Jay Deegan, Print Managing Editor
Jay Deegan is a Junior at Central and happy to start his third year of journalistic adventures at the Central Times. Jay loves writing features and diving in-depth into issues that plague our community. In his free time Jay runs a freelance videography and photography business and loves to creatively express his interests in sports and filmmaking. If you’d like to join CT or have a tip, reach out!
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