Djibril ‘Jibby’ Diol Memorial Scholarship to honor CSU alumnus who died in tragic blaze

Portrait of Djibril Diol
Djibril Diol

Djibril Diol’s positive outlook, outgoing personality and strong work ethic earned him friendship and respect at every turn while working toward a civil engineering degree from Colorado State University and through a successful position with Kiewit in Denver. Family, friends and co-workers were left grief-stricken by his tragic death Aug. 5, 2020, in an arson fire at his home that also claimed the lives of his wife, daughter, sister and niece.

Kiewit is working with CSU to establish a civil engineering scholarship in Diol’s name. Kiewit Companies Foundation will donate a $12,500 match to gifts supporting the scholarship. Once the fund reaches $25,000, the scholarship will be endowed permanently, creating a legacy for Diol at CSU forever.

Diol’s enthusiasm for learning was well known. Those who knew him feel the scholarship is a fitting tribute to the Senegalese immigrant who was named an outstanding grad in December 2018.

His family, friends and co-workers called him “Jibby.”

“Jibby valued education to the highest degree,” said Ousman Ba, a CSU alumnus and close friend to Diol and his family. “A scholarship is one of the best ways we can honor this amazing human being who brightened any room he stepped into because of his smile, energy or 6-foot-8-inch frame.”

Ba and Diol bonded over their shared Senegalese heritage and participated in many of the same student organizations, including Africans United, the Black/African American Cultural Center, United Men of Color and intramural basketball. Diol also was an active member of the National Society of Black Engineers and the Islamic Center of Fort Collins.

Ousman Ba and Djibril Diol pictured in formal attire for an Eid celebration
Ousman Ba, left, and Djibril Diol are dressed for an Eid celebration at the Islamic Center of Fort Collins. Courtesy of Ousman Ba

Service was important to Diol, and he volunteered his time generously. He demonstrated cultural pride by writing, directing and performing in plays for showcases organized by Africans United and the Black/African American Cultural Center. Ba said that when he served as president of the local chapter of United Men of Color, he often sought Diol’s advice.

A family man above all else

Most of all, Diol was deeply devoted to his family. He supported family in the U.S. and Senegal while attending college. Ba said Diol would spend most nights and weekends studying, looking forward to the day he could bring his wife and daughter to the U.S.

“What set Jibby apart was his ‘why,’” said Jason Proskovec, a Kiewit project manager. “It was never about Jibby and his success. Jibby’s success meant a better life for his family and community.”

Diol dreamed of one day using his engineering knowledge to improve infrastructure in rural Senegal, after gaining professional experience in the U.S.

Following his CSU graduation, he worked as a field engineer for Kiewit on the Central 70 highway project in Denver. He became a U.S. citizen and moved his wife and toddler daughter to northeast Denver.

On the job site, Diol’s work ethic, drive and smile were infectious.

“On C-70 we started the phrase, ‘Be more like Jibby,’ and we use it to this day,” Proskovec said. “His positive attitude always brought up morale, directly impacting the performance of his team.”

Bright future cut short

Ousman Ba and Djibril Diol at Diol's CSU graduation ceremony in 2018
Ousman Ba, left, and Djibril Diol at Diol’s CSU graduation ceremony in 2018. Courtesy of Ousman Ba

In the early morning hours of Aug. 5, 2020, the Diols’ Green Valley Ranch home was set on fire deliberately, according to investigators. Three family members escaped by jumping from a second-story window. Diol, 29; his wife, Adja Diol, 23; their daughter, Khadija, 2; his sister, Hassan Diol, 25; and her infant, Hawa Baye, died in the blaze.

Three teens were arrested in January and face numerous charges, including arson and first-degree murder, in the Diol family deaths. Their court cases are ongoing in Denver.

Diol’s father, Abdoulaye Djibril Diol, expressed gratitude to all the people who supported his family during the past year, from the Green Valley Ranch community to the Denver Police Department, Denver Fire Department and FBI for their work on the case and making the arrests.

“He had such big and ambitious goals for the future,” said Maryam Aïda Tidjani, a friend of Diol’s and a CSU student from Cameroon.

“I am so grateful for this scholarship because he would have loved to be able to help young, driven students who want a better life, just like him,” Tidjani said. “I am positive he would have been proud of that.”

Contributions to the Djibril “Jibby” Diol Memorial Scholarship can be made through the giving web page. Questions regarding the scholarship can be directed to Colleen Reese at colleen.reese@colostate.edu.