The Office of Experiential Learning at CCNY Transforms Student Education and Research Opportunities—Dr. Francesca Anselmi

by Sofia Canonge

At City College, the Office of Experiential Learning is an innovative suite of programs for undergraduate students, offering hands-on opportunities that prepare them for successful careers. At the office, Executive Director Francesca Anselmi works with an interdisciplinary team of dedicated professionals to support a diverse student body by providing creative learning experiences and career development resources, working closely with the Career and Professional Development Institute (CPDI).

Dr. Francesca Anselmi. Photo: Courtesy of CCNY.

Dr. Anselmi, a scientist by training, brings a wealth of experience to her role.

“As I was working towards my PhD in neurophotonics in Paris, I was accepted as a fellow at the Learning Planet Institute (LPI),” Anselmi shared in an interview. “At the LPI, I experienced firsthand the transformative power of experiential learning for students, researchers and the larger community.”

This transformative experience and her work at BioBus, a nonprofit for science outreach and education in NYC, fueled her passion for community-based education and led her to CCNY.

The Office of Experiential Learning aims to level the playing field for the next generation of working-class, immigrant, and minority students.

“We strive to build an integrated model for student training that is asset-based and outcome-driven, centered around a shared mindset of equity and inclusivity,” Anselmi explained.

The program offers many opportunities, from internships and apprenticeships to mentorship and career planning, designed to help students succeed.

The office runs several initiatives, including the City College Initiative to Support Academic Success in STEM (CiPASS), which, in collaboration with the Division of Science and the Grove School of Engineering, provides career guidance, internships, and skill-based training to STEM students.

“CiPASS supports faculty interested in implementing project-based learning in the curriculum and works with employers to develop pipeline programs for CCNY students to join the NYC STEM workforce,” Anselmi said.

Two other significant initiatives were launched more recently. The Career Awareness and Pathways at City College (CAPACity), in collaboration with the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, the Division of Humanities and the Arts and the Spitzer School of Architecture, focuses on creating career pathways by strengthening collaboration between CCNY’s divisions and the CPDI, while the Welcoming Experiences and Learning Communities to Maximize Early Success (WELCOME) supports and expands existing programs for first-year students at the Colin Powell School.

The impact of these initiatives is evident in the success stories of students like Fares Allahabi and his start-up CarbonCLAIR. This new, student-led entrepreneurial venture proposes an innovative carbon capture and air filtration solution in urban settings.

“Eighteen months ago, Fares, an undergraduate student and aspiring civil engineer, was accepted into the CiPASS apprenticeship program, where he learned the fundamentals of manufacturing and rapid prototyping,” Anselmi shared. “Then, with only $700, Fares and his team of undergraduates developed their first prototype, and now CarbonCLAIR is officially collaborating with Mount Sinai Hospital in a pilot program monitoring air quality near a demolition site in Jamaica, Queens, and its impact on the community.”

The Office of Experiential Learning at CCNY is determined to continue expanding and transforming the educational landscape, providing invaluable opportunities and support to students as they navigate their academic and career journeys.

“Our commitment to equity often requires us to think outside the box, to structure and restructure programs to create multiple entry points to opportunities,” Anselmi said. “This is only possible through a constant dialogue with internal and external stakeholders, first and foremost CCNY students.”

You may also like

Skip to content