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A child of DeLand has claimed a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.

“My head is still swimming,” Michael Schwirtz said May 6 in a phone interview from his home in Brooklyn.

Schwirtz, a staff reporter at The New York Times, was one of three writers who, along with a team of seven videojournalists from the Times, were awarded the Pulitzer for a series of eight reports published in 2019.

A Pulitzer Prize is considered the most prestigious award in journalism.

According to the announcement on the Pulitzer website, the journalists won in the category of international reporting “for a set of enthralling stories, reported at great risk, exposing the predations of Vladimir Putin’s regime.”

In a March 2019 story by Schwirtz, he reveals how, in coordination with Russian intelligence, an assassin did his work in the Ukraine. This was one of four articles in the series in which Schwirtz was credited.

At the age of 2, Schwirtz came from Miami to DeLand with his parents, Tom and Sandi Schwirtz. A 1999 graduate of DeLand High School, Michael Schwirtz excelled academically.

“With his IB diploma, he finished college in two years,” father Tom Schwirtz said.

Michael Schwirtz then got his master’s at European University in St. Petersburg, in Russia, and a second master’s from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

According to his father, Michael’s first job was freelancing out of the New York Times Moscow Bureau.

“He’s totally fluent in Russian,” Tom Schwirtz said. “All of his friends think he’s a spy.”

Although Michael Schwirtz is an investigative reporter, some of the intrigue and danger typically associated with spy craft comes with his occupation. In his remarks published by the Times on winning this Pulitzer, Michael Schwirtz, shared the gratitude he feels for his parents.

“Finally, I’d like to thank my parents, Tom and Sandi, who wired me the money for my first flak jacket after I was nearly blown up in [the country of] Georgia many years ago, and who have been just incredibly supportive throughout my career.”

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