Translate page with Google

Pulitzer Center Update May 9, 2024

Wake Forest Junior Awarded Prestigious Pulitzer Fellowship

Melina Traiforos
Melina Traiforos will report on Black infant mortality rates and women’s health. Image courtesy of Melina Traiforos.

This story was originally published on the Wake Forest University website.

The Pulitzer Center has selected Melina Traiforos, a third-year English major and journalism and marketing communications minor, as Wake Forest’s 2024 Reporting Fellow. 

Traiforos will receive a $3,000 stipend to report on Black maternal health disparities and inequalities low-income women face in the health care system. Her research project, titled “Black Mothers Are Dying. Here’s What NYC’s Doulas Are Doing About It,” will focus on the stories and outcomes behind an initiative taking place in New York City to address these inequalities. 

Black women are nine times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women, according to the City of New York.

“The Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellowship will allow me to report on Ancient Song Doula Services, an organization that partners with NYC Mayor Eric Adams’ year-old Citywide Doula Initiative to provide free, non-medical support to under-resourced pregnant people in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens,” said Traiforos. 

In her application to the fellowship selection committee, Traiforos points to NIH research that shows doula-assisted mothers are four times less likely to have an infant with low birth weight (LBW) and more likely to initiate breastfeeding. In addition, women receiving Medicaid with doula support are at lower risk for cesarean section and postpartum depression. 

“My primary source will be a doula from Ancient Song around whom I will craft a narrative article, blending statistics from health officials with sensory details and patient testimonies to fill a gap in reporting. It will be an uplifting, person-centered story to assign a face to this issue. This project will also have a photojournalism component to strengthen the audience’s connection with those affected.” 

The Pulitzer Center awards fellowships to students from its Campus Consortium partners to cover a wide range of issues including climate change, education, human rights and global health. They receive funding and mentorship to report from the U.S. and around the world. The University’s journalism program also provides support for the fellowship. 

Women’s health care is an area that Traiforos is deeply passionate about. She volunteers with the Menstrual Access Project (MAP) on campus, which delivers free sanitary products at designated sites to increase access on campus. She is also conducting a semester-long reporting project on medical gaslighting in her “Mastering the Interview” course. 

“The skills I have cultivated as a journalism minor mean I am well-prepared to take on a reporting project of this size."

—Melina Traiforos, 2024 WFU Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellow

The Wake Forest University Journalism Program has been affiliated with the Pulitzer Center’s Campus Consortium since 2012. Previous fellows have reported from Algeria, Brazil, Italy, France, Denmark and Thailand. 

“Melina Traiforos joins a long list of talented and conscientious Wake Forest student journalists in being awarded the Pulitzer Center Fellowship,” said Justin Catanoso, a professor of the practice in journalism who has had Traiforos in class. “Hers is among the few Pulitzer fellowships awarded since 2012 to focus on US-based reporting. She brings both a deep knowledge of and great passion for the underreported issue of complicated pregnancies among low-income women in New York City and the health system’s uneven ability to provide quality care.” 

Traiforos will complete her fellowship project this summer. Her in-depth reporting will be published on the Pulitzer Center website along with stories by previous Pulitzer Fellows from Wake Forest.


navy halftone illustration of a female doctor with her arms crossed


Health Inequities

Health Inequities
Three women grouped together: an elderly woman smiling, a transwoman with her arms folded, and a woman holding her headscarf with a baby strapped to her back.


Gender Equality

Gender Equality