Across the country and all over the world, Spartan alumni are making a difference in people’s lives every day. No matter when they graduated from Michigan State, their “Spartans Will” spirit never falters.
For the past 76 years, MSU has recognized such outstanding alumni though its Alumni Grand Awards. This year, Broad alumna Ann Burnett received the Alumni Service Award for her dedication to giving back to MSU and her local community. The award is presented annually to alumni who have demonstrated service to the university and public welfare on a local, state, national or international level.
“Receiving this award at the Alumni Grand Awards Gala in September was a surreal experience. The best part was having so many of my friends from Michigan and Arizona and my family attend and share this special moment with me,” Burnett said. “I am used to being behind the scenes, not in the spotlight, so it meant the world to me to be honored and celebrated by MSU. The alumni office took great care of everyone and made my weekend even more memorable.”
Burnett graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in business and started her career at Michigan Bell in Detroit. Through multiple transitions at the company, she ended up working in marketing at AT&T, where she managed client accounts, pitched products and oversaw product installation. Burnett then moved to Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and children and eventually left the corporate world to focus on her true passion and life purpose: community service.
Burnett’s family bleeds green, as her dad inspired her to study at MSU and two of her four children later followed in her steps. The Broad alumna grew up cheering for Spartan football and knew her heart had always belonged here.
To this day, Burnett is an avid supporter of the university, devoting her time to engaging Spartans both in and outside of her community. While in Arizona, she has been an active member of the Arizona Spartans alumni club, which has been running since the 1970s.
In 2019, Burnett was elected president of the club, and she made it her goal to ensure its growth and longevity. During her time as president, she has filled the board to its maximum capacity of 15 members and revamped the club’s strategic planning to include operating structure and transition plans. She spearheaded initiatives to rewrite bylaws and formed several standing committees while strengthening the club’s relationship with MSU.
Burnett credited the club’s success to her fellow Arizona Spartans. “While I might be the face of Arizona Spartans, I could never have got the club to where it’s at without the wonderful, like-minded people I am surrounded by,” she said. “The Spartan spirit truly never dies. ‘Once a Spartan, always a Spartan.’ Everyone in our club shares a steadfast commitment to contributing and giving back to their alma mater.”
Aside from social and fundraising events, Burnett hosts “Green and White” nights at the club, where she works in conjunction with the university to bring in alumni who can speak on their expertise in various industries. She also stresses the importance of organizing creative events tailored to young alumni’s needs.
“Our younger generation of alumni are the future of Arizona Spartans, so we place a heavy emphasis on increasing their engagement and involvement in any way we can. We strive to listen to new alumni and understand what they want out of our community. Our club has hosted many events based on their feedback, such as professional development workshops, football watch parties, community service and golf outings.”
Burnett was also a volunteer in Empower Extraordinary, a campaign at MSU that raised over $1 billion to provide resources and build facilities for future generations of Spartans.
“MSU has always been committed to supporting in-state students. As successful alumni, we should reinvest in our alma mater and continue to bolster this cause,” she said. “The campaign enabled the university to increase student financial aid, construct new campus learning facilities such as the Minskoff Pavilion and add many endowed faculty members.”
Burnett’s husband, Michael Medici, was also a volunteer in the campaign. “My love for MSU is so contagious that it spread to my dear husband,” she laughed. “We are so honored to be part of the campaign and give back to future Spartans.”
In addition to her impact on campus and through Arizona Spartans, Burnett has been of great service to her community in many ways, hosting an inaugural fundraiser for the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts, volunteering for the National Charity League as a board member, organizing school fundraising events and coaching a sports team for her daughters.
An ardent Spartan sports fan, Burnett has been a proud football ticket holder for 65 years. Her fondest memory of Spartan football was the 2014 Rose Bowl game, which she says she waited 25 years to attend. She has also become a new season ticket holder for men’s basketball this past year.
Burnett and many other Broad alumni are carrying on the “Spartans Will” spirit and leaving a positive impact everywhere they go. Their passion and achievements inspire our current students and young alumni to stay engaged, get involved and make a difference in the world.