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VOL. 123 | NO. 42 | Friday, February 29, 2008

Edwards, Others to Be Honored at Peabody Tonight

By Rosalind Guy

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At age 25, just two years after she graduated from the University of Memphis with a bachelor's degree in journalism, Johanna Edwards signed a six-figure book deal with New York-based Berkley Books, a division of the Penguin Group.

Edwards is the author of five novels - "The Next Big Thing," "Love Undercover," "Your Big Break," "How to Be Cool" and "Go Figure" - and currently is working on her sixth. Her work has been featured in USA Today, Us Weekly and The Boston Globe.

And all of that before she turned 30.

That's why the U of M Alumni Association chose to award Edwards its Outstanding Young Alumna Award, an honor the association doesn't give out every year.

Edwards, along with other U of M alumni, will be recognized at the Distinguished Alumni Awards gala tonight at The Peabody Hotel. A reception will be held at the Future Law School Plaza at 5:30 p.m. and the awards gala will follow at 7:30 p.m.

Guests will park at The Peabody and be shuttled to the reception by limousine. There will be dinner, dancing, a live auction and more as the honorees are celebrated.

The theme for the evening is "Once in a Blue Moon."

And the winners are ...

Edwards received word in January via an e-mail that she'd been chosen to receive the award.

"It was actually a huge surprise for me," she said. "I was so honored."

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award is presented whenever committee members discover someone they deem worthy.

Other honorees include G. Douglas Edwards, 59, Cathy Ross, 50, and William Sanderson, 64, as Distinguished Alumni; Larry Papasan, 67, as Distinguished Friend of the University; and Bruce Harber, 51, who will receive the J. Millard Smith Illustrious Service to the Association Award.

Douglas Edwards was appointed CEO of Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. in August 2003 and has served as president of the company since 2001.

Ross is senior vice president and chief financial officer of FedEx Express.

Sanderson has played numerous roles in mainstream and independent films, theater and television. He currently is working on the vampire drama "True Blood" for HBO Television.

Former president of Smith & Nephew Orthopaedic Division and former president of Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division, Papasan also is a former president of the board of trustees of the University of Memphis Foundation and currently is chair of the U of M's Board of Visitors. Harber is the director of police services at the U of M.

"We're very excited about the recipients," said Martin Zummach, president of the alumni association. "They're all deserving individuals."

Johanna Edwards said she's equally excited.

"It's hard to even put into words," said the author, whose sixth book will be out in August. "It's just very exciting and I'm so honored and so thrilled. The university really was a huge part of my life for so many years and I had such a great time going to school there and I learned so much, so it's really just a huge honor. I'm so proud to be able to represent the university."

For more information about tonight's event, call the Alumni Association at 678-2333.

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