After graduating from Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in 2009, Michael Sansone was eager to jump into the workforce. He worked his way up in the restaurant industry and even operated a food truck—but, according to Michael, his growth was starting to plateau. That’s when he decided it was time to head back to school to earn his college degree.  

Growing up in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood, Michael knew about City Colleges of Chicago, and it seemed like a good fit, but he still had some anxieties about returning to the classroom as an older student.  

“I feared I would be treated differently,” he said. “Instead, I was met with quite the opposite. Equity runs thick at CCC.”  

He jumped right into his classes, not knowing exactly what he wanted to study, but he found support along the way. He also explored classes at six out of the seven City Colleges. 

“With the help of really great instructors and advisors, I realized I wanted to pursue engineering,” he said.  

To fund his college journey, Michael earned a scholarship from the National Science Foundation and was part of a cohort of STEM students at Harold Washington College. He continued to gain experience in the field by completing a Community College Internship (CCI) at Argonne National Laboratory, which is run by the U.S. Department of Energy, in the summer of 2021. It went successfully, and “they decided to keep me around,” he said.  

While Michael is already building up an impressive resume, he’s not done yet. With his associate degree in engineering science from Daley College now complete, he plans to transfer to the Illinois Institute of Technology this fall to study civil engineering. His bachelor’s degree will be fully funded thanks, in part, to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship—a prestigious scholarship award worth up to $55,000 per year.

Michael’s ultimate goal is to find a career where he’s able to advocate for transportation equity. Such a profession would combine his interest in engineering and supporting communities that have been historically underinvested in.  

Beyond his altruistic career passions, Michael wanted to make a difference at City Colleges during his time here, too. He was selected as a Luminary Award recipient in 2022 for his efforts to mentor and support other students both in class and through the Intercollegiate Engineering Club.  

“City Colleges has done so much for me,” he said, “So, what I’m trying to give back is hope to others that the success I’ve found is possible for them, too.”  

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