U.S. Department of State Honors Dr. István Sértõ-Radics of Hungary As State Alumni Member of the Month

Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 3, 2009

The U.S. Department of State has named Dr. István Sértõ-Radics as State Alumni Member of the Month. Sértõ-Radics is a Hungarian alumnus of the Department’s Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship program and Fulbright Visiting Scholar program. Throughout December, his leadership and promotion of minority and human rights will be recognized on the State Alumni website (https://alumni.state.gov), the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ official website for the more than one million Department-sponsored exchange alumni worldwide. Each month, the Bureau’s Office of Alumni Affairs, which supports alumni as they build on their exchange experiences, confers the award on an outstanding alumnus or alumna.

Sértõ-Radics first came to the United States in 1991 to study public health at Johns Hopkins University through the Humphrey program. He entered the field of public health in Hungary and later became mayor of the small village of Uszka, a 90 percent ethnic Roma village in one of the most impoverished regions in Hungary, where he saw he could make a positive difference. As mayor of Uszka, he initially faced death threats for his efforts to house a group of displaced Roma who had been evicted by a landlord in a neighboring town. Ultimately, however, Sértõ-Radics’ programs succeeded in ameliorating poverty and overcoming ethnic tensions in Uszka. In 1998, he received the prestigious European Union-United States Democracy and Civil Society Award for his work with the Roma population in his village.

In 2002, Sértõ-Radics returned to the United States as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the University of Mississippi to research ways to resolve racial tensions. Upon returning to Hungary, he started a program to find employment and educational opportunities for his villagers. Sértõ-Radics credits his observations of one after-school program in a small town in Mississippi for his establishing a similar fifth to eighth grade educational course in Hungary, and notes that this program is inexpensive, effective and sustainable.

Since Hungary’s accession to the European Union in 2004, Sértõ-Radics has headed the Hungarian delegation to the Committee of Regions (CoR), an assembly made up of regional and local officials from throughout the European Union. He was later elected vice president of CoR and President of the Commission for External Relations.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ website at http://exchanges.state.gov/alumni/alumnus.html.

Media Contact: Catherine Stearns, StearnsCL@state.gov or phone (202) 632-6437

PRN: 2009/1220