Featured: Patrick Lubala ’20

Patrick Lubala is a proud Congolese-American, Bloomingtonite, and MCLP alum. He journeyed from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the United States in 2003 to pursue better education and employment opportunities.

He recalls viewing the experience of Black “folx” in America through the TV screen in Kinshasa. African Americans were depicted as thugs and, most often, in conjunction with crime and drugs. They seldom appeared as scholars, leaders, or main characters. Yet, he saw a better opportunity for himself and his family in the United States.

He quickly realized that the portrayal of Black Americans and American life in the media isn’t entirely accurate. Patrick describes America as “a whole family trying to help each other.” Noting there are both “good and bad people everywhere in the world.”

He believes in the power of community and strives to serve in any way he can. He says there are between 300-400 Congolese families in Bloomington-Normal. When a new family arrives, Patrick is always ready to help, with a smile. From transportation and translating to filling out applications and giving advice, he offers new immigrants the support they need to feel safe and secure.

He says that the experience of Black Americans and African-American immigrants are inherently different. Still, at the end of the day, Patrick commented that both groups face implicit bias and continue to be disenfranchised by the American system built to “protect them.”

Patrick is a manager at CVS and cites being followed by police, twice in the last week, after closing the store. He’s been pulled over too many times to count, sometimes only to check his ID. And while he’s never had a violent physical encounter with police, he says they look at him differently–with “the look”–which he interprets as implicit bias.

Patrick has his Bachelor’s in Management from American Public University. He speaks three languages and has many years of retail, management, and customer service experience. Despite his many talents, Patrick has found it challenging to find employment in his desired career field. Various factors may contribute to this, but Patrick wonders if implicit bias is one of them. He has noticed that even with the necessary qualifications, many of his fellow immigrants also struggle to find employment.

He has even seen some children of immigrants become discouraged and unmotivated to pursue higher education. They have seen firsthand how it has affected those around them—many take on massive loads of debt with no guaranteed job security.

Despite these challenges, Patrick still values the opportunities available in America. He holds no animosity towards others, the police, or the system— it’s quite the opposite.

Patrick believes in the power of the American dream and is optimistic that systemic change is possible. He utilizes the tools he gained from MCLP to encourage other immigrants to become involved in the community. He has also worked with MCLP alum and City Counselor Jeff Crabill to give immigrants a voice in local decision making.

Patrick is a management team member at CVS and graduated from MCLP in 2020. He completed the program alongside his wife, Regina, whom he met at Heartland Community College. Together they have seven beautiful children. Patrick and Regina are always eager to apply what they learned in MCLP to how they parent and communicate as a couple.

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