Vivid photography that tells the stories of women in Africa overcoming challenges of gender norms and maternal health issues has won two Pulitzer Center student fellows first prize in their regions for the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Mark of Excellence Awards.
Investigation and diligent research won Pulitzer Center Jae Lee and Kara Andrade first prizes in in-depth reporting in region 7 and region 2 for the awards. Lee, a 2015 Pulitzer Center student fellow from Washington University in St. Louis, examined rural people’s access to healthcare by sharing stories from community health workers, victims of poor healthcare, and lower-tier healthcare providers. Andrade, a 2015 Pulitzer Center student fellow and Ph.D. student at the School of Communication at American University, followed an activist at risk in Mexico to investigate the use of information and communication technologies for transparency, activism and citizen reporting, as well as its risks to citizens.
After a lot of preparation for their reporting trip to Costa Rica, University of Southern California's Rebecca Gibian and Diana Crandall adapted to new developments in their story, bringing light to the Bribri community there. Their breaking news project won them first prize in region 11 for the awards. In the mountains of Costa Rica, the two found how the indigenous Bribri struggle to maintain their culture as an influx of technology transforms their community.
Sydney Combs, a 2015 Pulitzer Center student fellow from the University of Chicago, won first prize in the Mark of Excellence Awards Region 5, placing her in the running for the national award in two categories.
Combs placed first in feature photography and in television feature reporting for her documentation of changing gender norms in Tanzania, sharing accounts from Maasai rogue entrepreneurs and the consequences they face in resisting tradition and starting their own businesses. Her video, "Kinapa: We Carry Each Other" ran in Global Citizen in November 2015.
First place prize for feature photography in Region 10 was awarded to Paul Nevin, a 2014 Pulitzer Center student fellow from the University of Washington. Nevin's photography documents maternal health issues in Kenya. He will continue as a finalist for the national award.
Student fellows Jennifer Gonzalez and Luke Nozicka were finalists in the same categories in which Combs won. Gonzalez and Nozicka worked as a team from Southern Illinois University Carbondale to report on teenage pregnancy in the Dominican Republic.
Read more about student fellows who are finalists in the Mark of Excellence regional awards this year.