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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Anthropology Major Wins First Place in International Essay Contest

A University of Mississippi student has placed first in an international essay-writing contest presented by business nonprofit Net Impact and sponsored by FedEx Corp.

Edgar L. Bounds IV, a senior anthropology major from Senatobia, won the “Access: Voice of the Next Generation” contest with his essay about “increased cross-cultural connections leading to increased cultural understanding,” according to Net Impact.

The contest focused on the concept of access, or the “idea that people, organizations and nations have the ability to connect and interact rapidly and widely around the globe, accessing the goods, information and ideas they want, when they want them,” said Sarah Burke-Gorewitz, associate for communications and corporate partnerships at Net Impact.

Undergraduate and graduate students from countries including the U.S., Africa, China and Europe entered the contest and were asked to answer the question: “Where will access take us next?”

Bounds interns at FedEx in Memphis, where he works with senior analysts. He said working with technology began as a hobby, but he now hopes to pursue a career in software, Web communications or Web design.

“Access is something I feel strongly about,” Bounds said. “Normally, it takes me a long time to write essays, but just the intersection of people and technology and how people connect is something that I think about a lot. I feel like it’s going to be important as we move into the future.”

As first-place winner, he received a $2,000 cash prize and full access to the 2009 Net Impact Conference at Cornell University in November. His essay will also appear in FedEx’s annual business magazine, Access Review.

A panel of experts judged entries on originality, engagement with theme, voice and creativity. “In his essay, Edgar pointed to a simple transaction between an American college student and a skilled artisan in Doha, Qatar, that, by many counts, would not have occurred if it weren’t for the increases in access of the last decade,” said contest judge William G. Margaritis, vice president of global communications and investor relations at FedEx. “He described how we are all connected – economically as well as culturally – to greater possibilities. His optimism for the positive benefits of increased access echoes that of FedEx, and we are delighted to recognize his accomplishment of first place in the Access essay contest.”

“If there is any theme in these essays, it is that the increase in access of all kinds has created a pressing need for better, more thoughtful communication among people,” said Ben Powell, managing partner of Agora Partnerships and one of the contest judges. “With the world facing so many challenges, it is extremely encouraging to see that the young writers of these essays are not only acutely aware of our interdependence but ready and eager to embrace it.”