Valerie Thomas was interested in science as a child, after observing her father tinkering with the television and seeing the mechanical parts inside the TV. At the age of eight, she read The Boys First Book on Electronics, which sparked her interest in a career in science. Her father would not help her with the projects in the book, despite his own interest in electronics. At the all-girls school she attended, she was not encouraged to pursue science and math courses, though she did manage to take a physics course. Thomas would go on to attend Morgan State University, where she was one of two women majoring in physics. Thomas excelled in her math and science courses at Morgan State University and went on to work for NASA after graduation.