Growing up in 1940s Maryland, Valerie’s interest in math and sciences began at an early age when she discovered “The Boys’ First Book on Electronics.” Inspired by her father’s interest in mechanics, she envisioned working alongside and assisting him with various house projects. Instead, he enrolled her in an all-girls school that stressed traditional gender roles and career options, and deemphasized math and science.
Perpetually fascinated by new technologies, Valerie was a natural student and accelerated in what little advanced mathematics coursework was available to her. Unfortunately, though, she had little support from those around her and continuously met challenges and roadblocks in pursuit of higher education. Nevertheless, Valerie persevered, excelling in school and earning a physics degree from Morgan State University. Her resilience and fortitude ultimately landed her a job as a mathematical data analyst for NASA.