Construction of the center has incorporated two existing rooms where walls have been knocked down and both large windows and a new entrance added. According to Bonham, the multicultural center will provide an area for students to congregate, socialize, and have an opportunity to experience an environment that values who they are.
“This has been a priority of mine for well over a year and something we needed to get accomplished for our students,” said Bonham. “The timing made perfect sense and we’re going to model it the way colleges and universities do. Not only will it serve as a drop-in center, but it will also provide resources that promote and celebrate the diversity that exists within our school.”
Plans also call for the multicultural center to serve as a hub for guest speakers, advocacy programs to promote certain needs throughout Mundelein and the surrounding area and tying in community service opportunities that Carmel Catholic requires its student partake in during the school year.
Carmel has hired Andrea Fitzpatrick to serve as both director of the multicultural center and director of Carmel’s new 2050 program, geared towards low income, underrepresented, and first-generation college-bound students.
“The multicultural center will serve as a space that will be open to all students,” said Fitzpatrick. “It will be an inclusive place, one where kids can feel welcome, safe, and respected. It’s here where they’ll experience different types of programming to introduce them to different cultures, ethnicities, and religions. They’ll not only learn about what makes us different, but also what makes us the same.”
In addition to earning a degree in psychology from the University of Michigan and a Master’s degree in clinical child psychology from the University of Memphis, Fitzpatrick has two children who have graduated from Carmel and another two currently enrolled.
“The multicultural center is needed now more than ever because of several recent events that have taken place in our country,” added Fitzpatrick. “It’s important that students feel they belong at Carmel, that they have something to contribute, and that we can all work together to make Carmel a welcoming, inclusive environment.”
“The multicultural center is one of many projects happening related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the coming year, added Bonham. “Carmel is committed to continuous improvement in our DEI and to a plethora of additional programs and initiatives which allows us to operate as a tightknit community, to celebrate our diversity, and to provide health and wellness for our kids.”