By the mid 1990’s there were many university students from Hungary gaining admission to U.S. colleges and universities. However, paying American tuition and expenses was out of the reach of most Hungarian families. Thus, many turned to the Coalition to ask advice about where they could get financial aid. With partial scholarships from the universities and part-time work covering most of their living expenses, there was still a $1,000-$2,000 gap in their budget. It was to meet this need that in 1997 the Coalition established a Scholarship Fund.
Three years later, when Dr. Elemér Kiss, an original member of the Coalition passed away, his family and friends sent generous contributions in his honor to the Scholarship Fund. Thus, in 2000, the Fund was renamed “The Dr. Elemér Kiss Scholarship Fund.” Subsequently, when his wife, Mrs. Éva Kiss passed away in 2008, the name of the fund became “The Dr. Elemér and Éva Kiss Scholarship Fund.” Dr. Elemér and Éva Kiss, of Chevy Chase, MD, were members of the Coalition since its founding in 1991, left Hungary after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and settled with their family in Maryland. They demonstrated a life-long commitment to education both in Hungary and in the United States.
Dr Elemér and Éva Kiss were married for 63 years. They valued family, culture and education above all else. They were strong believers in the importance of higher education – because they had learned firsthand through years of communism and emigration to the US, that no one can ever take knowledge away from you. Their education helped them start over in a new country when they had little else.
Mrs. Kiss received a degree in Pharmacology from Eötvös Loránd University, and worked as a pharmacist in Budapest. Her training became very important during the 1956 Revolution, when she found herself working at a pharmacy on Móricz Zsigmond Körtér, a place of intense battles between Russian troops and Hungarian freedom fighters. After the family escaped Hungary, she worked as a research associate at Microbiological Associates in Bethesda, MD from 1957-1968.
Dr. Kiss received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Pázmány Péter University in 1931. During his studies he spent a year at Oxford University. He worked as Secretary to the President of the Hungarian National Bank. After the Soviet takeover in 1948, he was demoted. After the Revolution, he emigrated with the family to the U.S. in 1957. For a short period, he reluctantly became a salesman for 18 months. But soon after enrolled at Catholic University where he received an MS in Library Science at the age of 52. Using his extensive language knowledge, he worked until age 70 at the Library of Congress translating Meteorological Abstracts in German, French, Latin and Italian.
They were the proud parents of Edith Kiss Lauer and Nora Szabo.
Since 2004, the Coalition has dedicated proceeds of the annual Gala to the Scholarship Fund. To date, more than 148 outstanding Hungarian students have benefitted from these scholarships, some for multiple years.