SAINT AUGUSTINE — Flagler College junior Jessica Rowan was recently awarded a prestigious international reporting grant from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting in-depth engagement with underreported global affairs.
The Journalism major plans to investigate the struggle of Costa Rican children whose families can’t afford or find medical supplies to treat Type I diabetes. The topic is close to her heart: Her brother was diagnosed with the disease at a young age. When Rowan traveled and surfed in rural areas abroad, she wondered about the impact of restricted access to medical education and supplies. The Pulitzer grant is an opportunity for her to examine further the plight of affected Central American children.
“I am still in shock that my dream of investigative reporting and photojournalism is actually becoming a reality,” Rowan said. “It is just now sinking in that this is really going to happen.”
As part of the award, grantees are mentored by Pulitzer Center staff and journalists on their projects and their final work is featured on the organization’s website, with possible publication via other news media outlets.
Flagler College is a member of the Pulitzer Center’s Campus Consortium, a network of partnerships between the Center and colleges to engage with students and faculty on the most critical global issues of our time. In 2016, 31 students nationwide received Pulitzer reporting grants. This is the first year Flagler College has received one.
Rowan, along with 14 other students, prepared a grant proposal by taking a class titled “Global Issues and the Pulitzer Center,” taught by Dr. Brenda Kauffman. Assistant Professor of Communication Tracey Eaton, a seasoned journalist who also contributed to the course, spoke to the value of Pulitzer’s reporting grant.
“Students who are awarded travel grants journey to far-flung spots around the world in search of underreported stories of global significance,” he said. “These are amazing learning opportunities for student journalists. Jessie is a wonderful student and I know she’ll do a great job. I am confident that her project will help raise awareness of the struggle of diabetes patients in rural Costa Rica.”
Rowan will spend two weeks in Costa Rica in June conducting her research and reporting. She was one of five Flagler College finalists being considered for the award. The four others were Kathryn Ascher, Danielle Gellerman, Katherine Keithly and Katherine Lewin.