‘I was always helped and now it’s my turn:’ Ana Stipanovic Helps CareerWorks Students Find Their Strengths and Achieve Their Career Goals
Rain or shine, Ana Stipanovic, an instructor, and case manager at Catholic Charities North in Lynn, arrives at work with a smile on her face. She is eager to spend each day helping others believe in themselves and tap into their innate resilience, just as her Catholic Charities teachers once did for her.
“I feel like I’m not just a career coach but also a life coach,” Ana said.
Ana works with students in the CareerWorks program, preparing young adults from under-resourced communities for long-lasting, stable careers through free training and supportive partnerships. Ana helps them in finding resources, showing strengths, improving their resumes, and figuring out the next steps to achieve their career aspirations.
The students in the program come from diverse backgrounds, each with their unique stories and challenges. Some are single parents juggling multiple jobs to support their children, while others are immigrants who left everything behind in pursuit of a better life in the U.S. There are also individuals grappling with food insecurity, homelessness, and domestic abuse.
Ana is no stranger to adversity herself. After growing up in Bosnia and Herzegovina (former Yugoslavia), Ana spent a decade living in Germany as a refugee. When she arrived in the U.S., Ana worked as a housekeeper, a job that paid the bills but did not fulfill her.
In retrospect, she believes that the hardships she faced during this time enable her to connect more deeply with her students. She said, “Many times, as a person and as a student, I’ve needed support. I lost everything several times. I was at zero. I was in many situations that my students are in now.”
Years ago, Ana discovered Catholic Charities Boston’s CareerWorks program, and she immediately felt supported and excited about her future. She learned a wide range of skills, from medical terminology used in doctor’s offices to managing payroll and using Microsoft Office tools. Upon completing the program, Ana quickly secured a job in the Human Resources Department at Boston Logan Airport, before obtaining her associate degree in legal administration followed by her bachelor’s degree in global management.
Looking back at her experiences, Ana said the most valuable gift the CareerWorks program gave her is the enduring, supportive relationships she forged. She stayed in regular contact with Fran Troutman, the former Program Director of Catholic Charities North who helped Ana come full circle in her role as a mentor and a supporter by offering her a job in the CareerWorks program.
“I’ve met so many amazing people in my program and in different programs at Lynn,” she said. “I’ve become friends with lots of my students. I say to myself, ‘One day at a time. One student at a time.’”
In her former home of Germany, Ana’s brother also works as a teacher and student mentor for a Catholic nonprofit agency. The two share the sentiment, “Service is the rent we pay for your room here on Earth.”
“I was always helped, and now it’s my turn,” she says.
CareerWorks is one of several programs offered within Catholic Charities Boston’s Adult Education & Workforce Development.