Random Sample

Stankovitch has been an APA member since 1997.

What she does:

Stankovitch is the director of psychological services at the University of St. Thomas's Interprofessional Center, a Minneapolis clinic that offers free psychological, social work and legal services to underserved populations. She also sees patients and is a full-time clinical faculty member in the university's Graduate School of Professional Psychology.

The wrong wall:

Twenty years ago, Stankovitch held a high-powered job in human resources with a great salary, good benefits and "a fancy corporate title," she says. But she was unhappy. "I remember reading a book about someone who had worked his way to the top of the ladder and then realized it was leaning against the wrong wall," she says. "That was me."

After seeking guidance from a career counselor, Stankovitch realized that her strengths were in training employees and helping them work out conflicts with colleagues. "It was as if I'd been doing counseling without having the credentials," she says. So, at age 43, she enrolled in St. Thomas's Graduate School of Professional Psychology, where she earned her master's degree in counseling and a PsyD in counseling psychology.

Her inspiration:

Many of Stankovitch's clients at the Interprofessional Center are heroes, she says. "I think about all the things they've been through and how courageous they are and it makes me wonder, if I was in that situation, would I be able to do the same thing?" One person whom Stankovitch particularly admires is a Kenyan woman who had fled to the United States to escape torture based on her political views and ethnicity. Stankovitch co-led the multidisciplinary team that evaluated her for post-traumatic stress disorder and other signs of psychological trauma, helped her find housing and learn English, and supported her in court when she fought for—and won—asylum. Today, Stankovitch says, the woman is living in a safe place, is enrolled in school and "has a hopeful future."

Maintaining her balance:

When Stankovitch first joined the Interprofessional Center in 2007, it saw about 60 clients each year, but its client base has grown rapidly ever since. Last year, Stankovitch supervised about a dozen graduate and doctoral psychology students and interns who served 252 people. Despite her increasing responsibilities, Stankovitch finds time to read "non-psychology" books, such as mysteries by Janet Evanovich and Erica Spindler, and to go to cultural events with family and friends. "It's really important to spend time away from work and engage in your own therapy," she says.

—Anna Miller


Each month, "Random Sample" profiles an APA member. You may be next.