SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Major: Early Childhood Special Education
Expected date of graduation: 2022
Nathan Petithomme believes education is foundational. He chose to study early childhood education to help students start building that foundation from the beginning so they can be successful later in life.
A product of Chicago Public Schools, Nathan is passionate about making education more inclusive, more equitable, and more just for all students, no matter their background, race, or identity. His sights are set high—aspiring to one day become the Secretary of Education for the United States—and his Loyola education has prepared him to be successful in whatever he sets his mind to.
Here, Nathan discusses his involvement in the School of Education anti-racism task force and shares his plans for the future.
Are you involved in any community service or extracurricular activities? What have those experiences meant to you?
I helped create the School of Education anti-racism task force, which is a joint task force between students and faculty in the School of Education. This movement spurred from the George Floyd incident. At first, a couple other students of color in the School of Education and I gathered together in a healing session. And then we realized there were so many things that we wanted to tackle in our own school. So we brought it to the attention of faculty and staff and created a task force. Through the task force, we’ve been working on how to infuse the School of Education curriculum with more diverse and culturally relevant content and how to make the courses more equity driven so that the School of Education is able to foster a community of anti-racist educators.
Society should be inclusive of people of all backgrounds. When I started my freshman year at Loyola, I was struggling to find where I fit in, in terms of the School of Education and Loyola in general. Being able to create spaces where I see people who look like me and want to achieve the same goals as me has been really important and fulfilling because I come back from each of those events really powered up and energized. These experiences have been very meaningful for me in terms of finding my home at Loyola.
What are you planning to do with your degree? How has Loyola prepared you for your future goals?
With my Loyola degree, I definitely want to first become an educator. Then, I want to work myself up through school administration to be able to enact change at different levels. The School of Education has done me well in learning about different social issues that are in education and how we as educators can use our power and privilege to enact change with stakeholders, community members, and fellow staff to all reach the goal of educational justice.
The most valuable lesson that I’ve learned from my time at Loyola is the power of partnerships and collaboration. Either on the teacher level—collaborating with parents, staff, and community members to meet the needs of our students—or at the university level, collaborating with staff and faculty, to get me to where I need to be and to also have a collective goal that we’re all striving for. Collaboration has been a big thing. As I look to the future, I definitely see myself growing and working with different people because I believe there’s power in collaboration. My Loyola degree will help me get to that because all four years of my coursework and projects have been collaborative group work.