Lorenzo Giampietro: Perspective on Life's Challenges

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From theater to the theater of cities, UW Tacoma first-year student Lorenzo Giampietro's interests coalesce around helping others.

UW Tacoma first-year student Lorenzo Giampietro. Photo by Cody Char.FIRST-YEAR STUDENT
GREW UP IN: MARYLAND, HAWAII, SPANAWAY
INTENDED MAJOR: URBAN STUDIES

His name sounds like an Italian movie star of the 1960s. Maybe someone who starred in a Fellini film. Although he’s young enough that maybe he’s never even heard of Fellini.

Lorenzo does have a theatrical background. At Bethel High School he did a lot of theater, performing in Moss Hart’s classic 1920s farce You Can’t Take It with You, the murder mystery musical spoof Something’s Afoot, and Norman Krasna’s romantic comedy Dear Ruth.

Before that, he was growing up on the east coast, having been born in Havre de Grace, Maryland, a small, picturesque town on the Susquehanna River, halfway between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. His mom was in the Air Force and his dad was in the Army. The family moved to Hawaii and eventually to the Pacific Northwest.

For much of his childhood, Lorenzo was dealing with something most kids don’t experience. At the age of four, he was diagnosed with leukemia. Aggressive treatment meant he delayed entering kindergarten until he was six. He became very familiar with the corridors and personnel of Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis McChord, returning there for treatments and examinations—frequently in his younger years, these days down to once per year. Now, having gone 11 years without any recurrence of the cancer, he’s pretty confident that he’s licked it.

Lorenzo is a first-generation student (neither of his parents completed college degrees), but he knew pretty much from as early as he can remember that there was an expectation about college. Lorenzo realizes how fortunate he was growing up in an environment where it was assumed he was capable of and would go to college.

But his bout with illness gives him a perspective, an early maturity contributing to a measured approach to life’s challenges. It also gives him a desire to help others.

Specifically, he is strongly drawn to urban studies—urban design and city planning. He identifies with that part of those professions that focuses on social equity, on marshalling the resources of civic investment to improve the lives of individuals in communities. After he completes an undergraduate degree in urban studies at UW Tacoma, he hopes to continue on to get a master’s degree.

And what about that gold locket around his neck? Embossed on the front is an astrological sign, another interest of Lorenzo’s. Astrology, dream worlds—perhaps it’s not too surprising that a child spending a lot of time in hospital wards would develop ways of escaping from reality.

But there’s nothing dreamish about Lorenzo’s philosophy on entering UW Tacoma. “Anyone is capable of anything—if you don’t try you won’t ever succeed,” he says, surely reflecting a hard-won optimism.

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Written by: 
John Burkhardt / October 2, 2015
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu