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University of Missouri

Value for Life

MAA’s 11,000th life member is an admirable ambassador.

Jennifer Linebarger

Jennifer Linebarger is the medical director of palliative care at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and the Mizzou Alumni Association’s 11,000th life member. Photo by Nicholas Benner.

At age 10, Jennifer Linebarger went into renal failure due to hemolytic uremic syndrome, a condition that causes red blood cells to clog the filtering system in the kidneys. She recovered, but the time she spent witnessing medical experts at their best inspired her to become a doctor.

It also instilled in her an overarching sense of gratitude. As Mizzou Alumni Association’s milestone 11,000th life member, Linebarger, BA ’99, MD ’03, maintains that spirit.

The Conley Scholars Program, a medical school preadmission plan, brought her from St. Joseph, Missouri. At Mizzou, she became an honors student, a Freshman Interest Groups leader and a campus tour guide.

I walked backward across campus a lot,” jokes Linebarger, who is now the medical director of pediatric palliative care at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. “After medical school, I lived on the East Coast where I held fast to those ties as an ambassador, telling people what Mizzou is all about. For me, upgrading from an annual membership to a life membership recognizes that connection to Mizzou.”

Linebarger’s job — treating terminally ill children and helping families through the profound loss — can be emotionally trying. But like everything else in life, she approaches it with grace and heart.

The role I have for families is an honor and a privilege,” Linebarger says. “I get to meet remarkable people who are going through remarkable times in their lives. I try to practice what I preach and not get too worked up about things that are truly out of my control or take any day for granted.”