Janet Chisholm grew up in a small town of 18,000--Las Vegas, Nevada. She watched above ground nuclear bomb tests at close range at the nearby nuclear test site. In high school she committed to learn all she could from local atomic scientists and from physics, chemistry and math classes; she entered Pomona College as a chemistry major hoping to design rockets and bombs to help the country compete with the Soviets. She took religion courses, joined civil rights groups, volunteered in the inner city, and lived nine months in Germany studying theology, the confessing church and lay academies. She graduated with a degree in Religion.