The Andover community is defined, in part, by diversity. One component of that is international diversity: students from all around the globe. For the past 50 years, some of Andover’s international students have found the school through a program known as ASSIST.
ASSIST is a longstanding U.S.-based non-profit program that helps multilingual international students study in independent American schools with full scholarships. ASSIST has supported 5,210 students from 52 countries since it was founded in 1969.
The organization aims to match students to appropriate schools based on their individual pursuits in academics and extracurricular activities. Each year, Andover welcomes one ASSIST scholar to the community. Jim Ventre ’79, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, explained that Andover was a founding member school of ASSIST and continues to be a strong supporter of the organization.
Ventre said, “Andover was a founding member of ASSIST 50 years ago. On October 12, the ASSIST program is in fact celebrating 50 years of their tradition of bringing these incredible students to these schools with a dinner in Washington D.C. We are not able to attend due to Family Weekend, but they have graciously invited us. Just recently, [Jill] Thompson, [Director of Admission,] received an award from ASSIST on behalf of Andover to recognize our 50 years of collaboration in the program.”
Thompson says she believes that Andover’s goals align with the vision of the ASSIST program.
“Our commitment here at Andover is to recruit youth from every quarter. ASSIST has the same goal. We work well together because our missions align in that way with a common vision. So what is important to Andover is also very important to ASSIST,” said Thompson.
Thompson also attributes the close relationship between Andover and the ASSIST program to ASSIST’s ability to select students who will be suitable for Andover’s unique setting. She says she believes that when ASSIST scholars attend Andover, learning goes both ways: domestic students can learn from the experiences of international students, and when international students return to their home countries, they can share what they learned about American culture.
Thompson said, “One of the benefits of the partnership with ASSIST is that they have come to know Andover really well, and so they present candidates to us from far-reaching places who they think would be able to be successful in our community… ASSIST knows that we have a large and complex community that requires a good level of independence. We have incoming Seniors who stay and graduate. They are typically here for an year, and then most of them return to their home countries and share… their experience with everybody in their community.”
During their one year stay at school, selected ASSIST scholars at Andover serve as cultural ambassadors for their country while focusing on academic abilities, leadership skills, and global perspectives.
Monika Nemcova ’19, a student from the Czech Republic, shared her personal experience at Andover as the 2018-2019 ASSIST Scholar.
Nemcova said, “I really wanted to go abroad for one year, but the problem was that schools costed a lot of money compared to the one I was attending. As I looked around, ASSIST appeared to me as the best organization for what I wanted. That meant an opportunity to study in a prestigious school.”
“I love volunteering and academics in general, and they are some of the traits of Andover. That was most likely the reason why ASSIST thought this school would be a great match for me,” Nemcova continued.
Ventre said that the connection between Andover and the ASSIST program is strong and beneficial for both sides. He emphasized the fact that ASSIST scholars who come to Andover are able to connect with Andover’s values, such as diversity.
“These are very dynamic students who have choice in their opportunities and Andover is a welcoming community that embraces this diversity. That attracts these students to want to be part of our community. I think our preference has been that we help through ASSIST to identify students who line up with the values of Andover. You should know that we are heavily invested in the ASSIST program through these scholarship opportunities,” said Ventre.