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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Thirteen University of California alumni awarded 2016 Pulitzer Prizes

THE PULITZER PRIZES / COURTESY
THE PULITZER PRIZES / COURTESY

Alumni from UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside take home awards for categories including public service, fiction and breaking news.

This year, 13 University of California (UC) alumni from UC Berkeley (UCB), UC Santa Cruz (UCSC), and UC Riverside (UCR) won Pulitzer Prizes. Awardees include four individuals and a news group consisting of UC graduates.

The Pulitzer Prize is a prestigious award presented by Columbia University for achievements in newspaper, online journalism, literature and musical composition. There are thousands of applicants each year, with only one winner for the 20 categories available. Winners receive a certificate and $10,000 reward. The news organization who wins the Public Service category receives the iconic Pulitzer gold medal.

Martha Mendoza, a UCSC graduate, is an Associated Press reporter who won the Public Service category for the news organization’s investigation of severe labor abuses tied to the supply of seafood to U.S. restaurants and supermarkets. The report ultimately led to the freeing of 2,000 laborers from unfair conditions.

“It’s no coincidence that this university has produced so many Pulitzer Prize winners,” Mendoza said in the UC Santa Cruz News Center. “It’s a place where students can better understand their role in our society, writing skills are emphasized, and everyone is encouraged to engage in their community and the broader world.”

UCB alum Viet Thanh Nguyen won the fiction category for his book, The Sympathizer. In addition, UCB alum T. Christian Miller won the explanatory reporting category for his exposé on the failure of law enforcement to investigate rape reports properly. UCSC graduate William Finnegan won the biography or autobiography category for his memoir Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. The Los Angeles Times staff, which consists of UCR alum Dexter Thomas and UCB alumni Paloma Esquivel, Soumya Karlamangla, Javier Panzar, Rong-Gong Lin II, Lily Mihalik, Evan Wagstaff, Christina Bellantoni and Christine Mai-Duc, won the breaking news category for their reporting on the San Bernardino shooting.

“Everyone at the Times is very excited about winning for breaking news coverage. It really was a staff-wide, team effort,” said Karlamangla, who graduated from UCB in 2013 with B.A.s in English and biology.

UC Davis may not have received a Pulitzer Prize in 2016, but one of the previous winners is Gary Snyder, former professor for the University Writing Program and current professor emeritus, who was the winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize in the poetry category for Turtle Island. Additionally, Alan Taylor, a distinguished professor in the history department, was the winner of both the 1996 and 2014 Pulitzer Prizes in the history category.

“President Napolitano is thrilled that so many UC graduates were honored this year,” said Claire Doan, UC Office of the President spokesperson. “The Pulitzer Prize is an incredible achievement and a clear testament to their extraordinary talent, dedication and hard work.”

Written by: Yvonne Leong – campus@theaggie.org

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