Today's Scholars. Tomorrow's Leaders.

Senior Alumni Testimonials

Pia Bungarten ’75, Germany, Suffield Academy (CT)

Pia Bungarten spent her ASSIST year in 1974/75 at Suffield Academy (CT), where she excelled as a Scholar and was among the first female students admitted as the school returned to coeducation. After finishing her secondary education in Germany, she returned to the U.S. and earned degrees from Amherst College and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Pia’s career has focused on public service through political dialogue, and she currently serves as Division Chief for International Dialogue for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. "I am very grateful for the decisive year I could spend as an ASSIST student at Suffield Academy. It laid the foundation for all I have done since then – opening a new world of ideas and experiences, creating the basis for college and graduate studies in the US, and for a life-long commitment to international cooperation and in particular to the German-American partnership. I am still in close touch with my host family from that time, and with many friends I got to know then. My ASSIST-year at Suffield Academy is "present" for me in many lasting and wonderful ways."

Martina Fietz ’77 P’11, Germany, Walnut Hill School (MA)

Martina’s daughter, Katharina, is following in her ASSIST footsteps. Martina has played a key role in this year’s ASSIST Annual Fund Campaign by writing to parents and has been helpful in Scholar recruitment. She notes: “As parents, we are in the position of recognizing from the personal experience of our children that supporting ASSIST is an investment with high returns—an experience that is truly life transforming.”

Dr. Matthias Fifka ’91, Germany, Dunn School (CA)

Matthias currently holds an endowed chair for Business Ethics and Sustainability at the Cologne School of Business and continues as a visiting professor at Cleveland State University’s School of Business Administration. He focuses on issues of sustainability, corporate social responsibility, business ethics and corporate governance. He has and will continue to provide sound advice to ASSIST as it seeks corporate support for program.

Sean Harris ’95, Germany, St. Andrew’s-Sewanne School (TN)

Pictured to the right is Sean with his son, Florian, ASSIST Class of 2025. Sean gives generously of his time to ASSIST through his leadership while treasuring time with family amidst his commitment to his work. He is proud to be a part of the Birkenstock family’s globally recognized shoe company dating back to 1774.

Arnoldas Pranckevicius ’97, Lithuania, Montclair Kimberly Academy (NJ)

Arnoldas Pranckevicius spent his ASSIST year in 1996/97 at The Montclair Kimberly Academy (NJ) and was later a distinguished scholar at Colgate University (NY). During his senior year there, he was named one of 70 worldwide Rotary World Peace Scholars, which funded his graduate work at the Paris Institute of Political Studies. After completing his Master's Degree, Arnoldas returned to his native Lithuania, where he accepted a position as Domestic Policy Advisor to Lithuania's President. In January 2006, he moved to Brussels after winning an open competition to work in the European Parliament, where he is now diplomatic adviser to the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, of Germany. "All of this came as a great surprise not only for my family, but for me as well. The first few months were a real challenge. But as I learned from my ASSIST experience, every challenge, if handled well, in the end can positively contribute to the growth of one's character and to the quality of one's endeavors."
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