Alumni spotlight: Dr. Jo Longenecker, ’81, Eastern Mennonite University


Why they LovEMU: Dr. Jo Longenecker ’81 says university provided a safe place to find herself

Dr. Jo Longenecker graduated from Eastern Mennonite College in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She would later graduate from the Medical College of Virginia, and now works as a family practice physician in Clarksburg, West Virginia. “I’m really glad I’m here,” she said. “I feel like I’ve landed where I belong.”

by Ryan Cornell for Eastern Mennonite University and available here

Editor’s Note: This profile is the sixth and final profile about students and alumni leading up to LovEMU Giving Day today. For more information about the day and to donate, visit  

Dr. Jo Longenecker ’81, a family practice physician in Clarksburg, West Virginia, says she took the scenic route on her journey into medicine. When she enrolled at then-Eastern Mennonite College in 1977, the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, native set her sights on a biology degree. She wasn’t sure what she would use it for, but she knew one thing for certain.

“I knew I did not want to be a doctor,” she said. “I was clear about that.”

As a sophomore, Longenecker spent a formative year with the Washington Study Service Year (WSSY), now the Washington Community Scholars’ Center. She was placed in a free medical clinic in Northwest Washington, D.C., where she helped staff members and interacted with patients. She enjoyed her experiences so much that she returned to the clinic during the summer between her junior and senior years as a member of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. By the end of her time there, the staff at the clinic kept suggesting she attend medical school and become a doctor. They persisted in their suggestions, she said, and her resistance to the idea began to fade.

“I guess they planted a seed,” Longenecker said, “except I was already signed up for all these great electives I was going to take my senior year.” […]

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