Anna Burton has had many academic and athletic accomplishments during her time at Newman University. She excelled in nursing school and performed at a high level throughout her volleyball career. This year, she received First-Team CoSIDA Academic All-America status.
Burton will graduate with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) this month and recently received the Distinguished BSN Graduate Award, a prestigious academic honor. She has kept academia a priority during her college career, holding a place on the President’s Honor Roll every semester.
Athletically, she plays the libero — a player specializing in defensive skills — on the volleyball court and has been highly successful. She received Conference Defensive Player of the Week multiple times and has been named Academic All-District for three years. This is the first year she has been chosen for the All-American team.
“I was very excited and humbled to receive this award. I did not think I would receive it and it was great unexpected news," she said. "I was happy that my hard work paid off in both the classroom and on the court."
Burton started playing club volleyball at the age of 9. She fell in love with the sport, she said, "because it is a team sport. I love working with my teammates to attain a goal."
She attended the University of Missouri out of high school but didn’t want all of her free time to be eaten up by practices and games so she opted not to play for the university.
It didn't take long for Burton to begin to miss the sport that she loved. She contacted two former high school teammates who were playing volleyball at Newman to ask about their experience. They convinced her to try out for the team. She received a scholarship and the rest is history.
Burton immediately set goals for herself.
"My goal was to start in the libero position and to do it well. I wanted to provide a good defense for my team so we could be successful out of the back row," she said. "I played libero for part of my freshman year and then I was the starting libero for the rest of my career."
She set her sights high, aiming to be one of the top liberos in the conference. She succeeded and received Heartland Conference Libero of the Week multiple times and made the honorable mention team this year.
Completing nursing school is no small feat, and neither is being named Academic All-America. To stay successful, Burton worked to keep her athletics and academics as separate as she could; keeping in mind that school was the priority. She was thankful that her coach had the same mindset.
"Personally, I focused on what I was doing when I was doing it — if I was in class, I would focus my attention on the subject and not on a game coming up or practice later," and vice versa, she said.
The nursing faculty was helpful when it came to conflicts in scheduling. "Everyone was willing to accommodate changes in schedules so that I could do both (volleyball and nursing)," she said.
Burton couldn't have achieved her success without a support system. Coaches, teachers and teammates were all big players in her accomplishments, she said.
"My teammates always have my back. They are some of the most encouraging people I know and always help me when I am struggling," she said.
Burton was happy her volleyball career ended with her fellow seniors. She said, "It was so good to finally play with them all at the same time. I was so happy to play my last season with the girls I have been the closest to for these four years."
As for the future, she has plans to take her National Council Licensure Examination and then begin work as a labor and delivery nurse for Truman Medical Center in Kansas City.
It's possible that her future plans include volleyball. She said, "I would love to eventually be involved in coaching in some aspect. Either club or high school would be fun so I can help others enjoy volleyball just like I did."