Skip to main content

MSPH Student Awarded Hopkins Pulitzer Fellowship

Michelle Ferng will report from Peru on abuse of the elderly.


International Health student Michelle Ferng has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Johns Hopkins-Pulitzer Center Global Health Reporting fellowship. A student in the MSPH degree program in Health Systems, Ferng will explore the issue of elder abuse, doing her field reporting in Peru.

Now in its second year, the fellowship, which includes a stipend of up to $5,000, is a collaboration of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. It offers public health students the opportunity to work with seasoned journalists at the Pulitzer Center and document important issues in global health.

Ferng became aware of the issues facing the elderly in developing countries through a 2012 State of the World’s Older Persons report that documented cases of elder abuse. They included instances of clinics refusing care to elderly women because they were “dirty,” and evictions of older women from their homes because of witchcraft accusations.

“In developing countries, longevity can be a double-edged sword,” said Ferng. “It is one of the untold stories in development that, globally, older people’s rights are routinely violated, socially, politically, economically and psychologically.

Ferng said she chose to focus on Peru, in part, because Latin America has one of the world’s fastest growing older populations, and the data on elder abuse is accessible and recent.

She will prepare for her reporting trip this summer by working with Pulitzer Center staff in Washington, D.C. In Peru, Ferng will tap NGOs, government officials, public health workers, the elderly and other sources to report her stories, and then return to Washington to complete the project.

Last year’s fellow, Varsha Ramakrishnan, MBBS, MPH, reported on dowry violence in India. Her article, “A Broken Promise” ( in Johns Hopkins Public Health magazine, was recently selected as winner in the nonfiction magazine article category of Society for Professional Journalists’ collegiate Region 2 Mark of Excellence Awards. (

More information:

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health media contact: Susan Sperry at 410-955-6919 or