Janis F. Kearney - Early Life and Education

Early Life and Education

Janis F. Kearney was born September 29, 1953, in Gould, Arkansas to Ethel V. Curry Kearney and Thomas James Kearney; she is the 14th of 19 children. Janis’ father was a sharecropper, and her mother was a homemaker, who spent much of her time between pregnancies, assisting her husband with the family’s cotton crops.

From the age of seven, Janis spent her summers chopping cotton, and autumns helping the family pick cotton. By the age of nine, she was also helping care for her younger siblings, and cooking for the family. However, every evening she and her siblings learned reading, writing, and arithmetic at home; they always returned to school in the winter at the top of their classes.

All except one of the Kearney children graduated from college and most went on to graduate school, law school, or both. Many attended some of the top colleges and universities in the country including Harvard, Yale, Brown, Vanderbilt, and Stanford.

After graduating from Gould High School in 1971, Janis attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. She married and had one child during her junior year in college; but she went on to earn a B.A. in journalism in 1976. She continued her education while working, earning thirty hours towards a M.P.A. from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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