Two Boston University graduate students will pursue separate, in-depth investigations related to mental health through fellowships announced this week from the Pulitzer Center.

Sofie Isenberg, a first-year graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in journalism at the College of Communication, will drive across the United States to document the psychological aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and “to contextualize individual stories with insight from the latest research.”

“The biggest surprise to emerge from the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. has been that people cannot seem to do without one another. But the fact that this was a surprise for so many Americans is a story in its own right,” Isenberg wrote to the committee reviewing proposals.

“Unlike any other major event over the last century, COVID-19 has yanked every member of our society out of normalcy at the same time. Now that we have been collectively forced into reflection, what will we discover about ourselves? And what, if anything, will we choose to do differently going forward?” she wrote.

Kayla Hui, a second-year graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in health communication and promotion, will investigate the labor practices of Chinese-owned trucking companies and the mental health of Chinese and Chinese immigrant truck drivers in New York.

“Trucking is a dangerous job. I know this because my father is a former truck driver,” Hui wrote in her proposal. “To meet their drop-off and pickup deadlines, truckers drive long hours to make it to their destination, often sacrificing sufficient time for meals, washroom visits and sleep breaks.

“Among those most vulnerable are Chinese immigrant truck drivers who work for smaller companies that provide little or no health insurance and rely on exploitative labor practices,” she wrote.

The Pulitzer Center is a nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to raising awareness of underreported global issues through direct support for quality journalism across all media platforms and a program of outreach and education to schools and universities.

The fellowships were awarded by the Pulitzer Center as part of its partnership with Boston University’s Program for Global Health Storytelling, led by faculty at the College of Communication and the School for Public Health.

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