Even as a child, Barbara loved animals of all kinds and stated that she wanted to grow up to be a veterinarian, “a doctor for animals.” Barbara went to elementary and high school in Omaha.

When it was time for Barbara to go to college, she was committed to finding a school where she could do her pre-veterinarian pre-requisites—and then vet school. She chose Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. Her parents did not have much money, but they were dedicated to her support. So, they moved to Fort Collins, as a way of helping Barbara by continuing to provide a home for her. Barbara worked for a year or two in an office, to save money toward her tuition. She was in the entering class of 1957, and in that same year she met a fellow student from Beirut, Lebanon, Samir Deeb. By the time their first child, Lamya was born, Barbara was a full time mom, and a half-time student. Barbara hadn’t yet finished her veterinarian degree when it was time for Samir to move to Illinois. The University of Illinois accepted her transfer (their first female student) into their Veterinarian School and gave her a scholarship. It was there that she obtained her degree in veterinary medicine.

When Samir came to the University of Washington for his fellowship, (1964-66) Barbara entered the UW’s Masters degree program in Preventive Medicine.