Senior Spotlight: Kimberly Barr

Kimberly Barr Senior Spotlight graphic.

When her cousin was born prematurely, Kimberly Barr found herself spending a lot of time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). While Barr was plenty familiar with hospitals – her mom is a nurse – this was first time she had spent an extended period of time interacting with other nurses. As she watched her cousin get stronger, Barr, who was in high school, began searching for collegiate nursing programs, with the goal of eventually becoming a NICU nurse.

That search led her to the University of Missouri.

“Growing up, my mom always told me that I should pursue nursing as a profession,” said Barr, who is from Mundelein, Illinois, just 40 miles north of Chicago. “I really wasn’t interested, though. But after spending time in the NICU and watching how the nurses worked with the doctors and the families, I fell in love with the idea of one day becoming a NICU nurse.”

Kimberly Barr on a zip line during her study abroad experience.
Barr traveled to Costa Rica through a Mizzou study abroad program. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Barr.

Barr said she visited numerous college campuses looking for the right fit. Along with reading about their nursing program, Mizzou was on Barr’s radar after a peer, who had recently enrolled at MU, shared more about the exciting experiences she was having in Columbia. Barr thought she would at least give the campus a look – and was pleasantly surprised.

“I immediately fell in love with the Mizzou campus,” Barr said. “I also really appreciated how the professors were so involved with their students. The Sinclair School of Nursing was in the process of constructing a new building, too, which was intriguing. The thought of being part of this new nursing era was exciting.”

While the nursing program played a huge role in Barr’s interest in continuing her education at Mizzou, the opportunity to be part of the Honors College helped seal the deal.

“The Honors College was mentioned during a couple of our tour stops,” Barr said. “I was definitely interested in what all was offered through the college. I applied for Honors on the car ride home. I knew nursing and Honors would offer me with the chance to grow both personally and professionally.”

Barr will graduate in December with her nursing degree and the Honors Certificate. Both programs have provided her the opportunity to explore her interests and gain meaningful hands-on learning experiences.

Through the Sinclair School of Nursing, Barr made certain to use the various resources available for students. Those include nursing manikins, which are lifelike patient simulators that are used to represent real-world nursing scenarios. She also interacted with actors who behave as a sick patient or a concerned family member. The exercise allows students to engage in a dialogue that they may experience as a professional.

Barr was also the vice president of the Mizzou nursing student council, a role she held for two years. Through the council, she helped lead numerous events for her fellow nursing students.

Kimberly Barr with Truman the Tiger.
Barr was plenty involved during her time as a Tiger and participated in a variety of philanthropic endeavors, such as volunteering at animal shelters and food pantries. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Barr.

“Hands-on learning is so vital, especially for nursing students,” Barr said. “Those experiences do such a great job of preparing you for the future. We’re very fortunate at Mizzou to have so many of these opportunities.”

Barr also participated in clinicals through the nursing school. She completed nearly 200 hours in the Progressive Care Unit (PCU) at the University Hospital.

“I was able to shadow a nurse and work with her 1-on-1,” Barr said. “It was an incredible opportunity to get a taste of what working within the hospital setting is actually like.”

Nursing allowed Barr to take in a study abroad experience, too. She traveled to Costa Rica where she was able to visit hospitals and clinics and got a taste of what healthcare is like in another country.

“It was really exciting,” Barr said. “To see how healthcare is done overseas was super interesting. I’m really thankful for the experience.”

The study abroad experience also gave Barr a couple credits toward her Honors Certificate. Along with her Honors courses, Barr participated in the Honors Learning-by-Contract program, too. When no Honors section of a desired class is offered, the Honors College allows students and faculty to work together to transform a non-Honors class into an Honors credit-earning experience through the program.

“I loved that I was able to make my Honors experience my own,” Barr said. “Being able to sign up for classes early was great, plus I really enjoyed the small class sizes. I got to develop great relationships with my professors and peers. I love the big campus feel that Mizzou has – but it was also nice to have those smaller settings through Honors.”

Barr participated in a variety of philanthropic endeavors as a Tiger, such as volunteering at animal shelters and food pantries. She came to Mizzou as an Evans Scholar, a scholarship awarded to golf caddies who display an outstanding caddie record, have strong academics and are in financial need.

“There are so many ways to get involved on this campus,” Barr said. “I loved building those relationships and getting to meet so many awesome people.”

Barr accomplished a lot during her time as a Tiger. As she heads toward graduation, she can also mark off her biggest goal – becoming a NICU nurse. Barr will stay in Columbia after accepting a job at the Women’s Hospital MU within the NICU.

“It’s amazing to be following my dreams,” Barr said. “It’s been an honor to be part of this stellar program, and I’m very excited to continue to learn and grow. I can’t wait to get started.”