An Interview with Janese

Gemperlein: You said that you took things apart when you were a kid. Were you able to put them back together? And did you ever put it back together and it blew up? Were you interested in chemistry and did you ever blow things up in chemistry class?

Swanson: You know what? I cooked a lot because there were a lot of kids in my family, and, to me, there's a lot of issues in science that are in the kitchen.

But, no, as far as blowing things up, well, yeah. . . (there was) this doll I really wanted (Chatty Cathy). I never had it, but I took the neighbor's apart, because I really wanted to see how it worked. And it looked like a yo-yo inside on some parts. And, um, well, it didn't quite go back together. And I really did get in trouble for that. That, and a blender that I took apart once, and the buttons I changed around. But I didn't get in too much trouble for that one.

The typewriter worked out really well. I took a typewriter apart and changed the code, so then we had secret code in our little club in our neighborhood so we could type our own code. It was silly, but we did that.

dePeralta: Were you into cars and tools and stuff?

Swanson: Yeah. There was a person in my life, in my mother's life, who was a carpenter. And I remember in 6th grade being in a nail-hitting contest that he helped us to do at school. So all the boys were competing. Boys against girls. And we had hammers and nails.

It was so funny because some of the girls, they had never had a hammer in their hand. So, well, I was around it, so I was always playing around with things but, as far as cars go, not really. We didn't have . . .really cool cars or anything. I didn't really get into cars that much until I had one. And then I had a flat tire and I had to learn how to fix the tire. And it was raining. And I remember that. It was raining. It was scary. But then I finally found out how to do that, and I was showing all my girlfriends.

dePeralta: What aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?

Swanson: Creating. Definitely. . . .I know that there's a connection to what we do and what makes other people happy. I know that's really a socially driven agenda, but, at the same time, I know that my daughter's learning something about my values, and her friends are learning something about themselves. And that's very rewarding to me.

Gemperlein: Lots of successful people have mentors or people who help them along the way. Do you have any people you think of as your mentors or heroes or heroines?

Swanson: There are a lot of people I consider role models, heroines, to me. People that I read about and people that I've met. Like Hillary Clinton. She's incredible. My mom and my daughter. My daughter is definitely a hero to me. . . .I learn from her.

dePeralta: You earned six college degrees. Why? Why so many?

Swanson: It just happened. I really love school, and I would go and start taking courses that I was interested in. And then, before you knew it, I had a degree. And then the next one, I had another one. And then the next one, I had another one. And you just, like, follow your interests. If you have an interest in something, go in that direction. Enjoy it. Cause you've got one life.