About Val

Photo of Val smiling outside the Frida Kahlo museum wearing a blank tank top with a short sleeve button up shirt and black pants.

Hi! I’m Valerie, the owner and head STEM Empowerment Enthusiast at STEMoneers! It’s great to have you visit our page to learn more about me and our program. We love meeting new “STEM Pioneers” and welcome any questions. Reach out to me through the Contact page.

I’m a mom of two adults, a Gigi to an amazing young lad, an engineer, a lover of travel, outdoors and a photographer.

A country girl at heart, I grew up in rural NC surrounded by cow pastures, tobacco fields & lots of love! I’m certain I learned to drive a tractor before I could fully recite the alphabet (or at least that’s how I remember it! Ha!)

I was a curious child growing up and wanted to understand the “why” & “how” behind everything I encountered. During a 5th grade class assignment we were asked the famous question adults like to ask children – “what do you want to be when you grow up”. Well this set me on the quest of a lifetime! Because of my curiosity (& my desire to make good grades), this was my opportunity to not only learn about careers, but to impress my teacher with my one-page report on my future! She would not be let down! Haha. Heading straight to the Occupational Outlook Handbook in the school library – the physical book, not online – this was the 80s after all :), I flipped through those pages feverishly looking for just the right career path for my future. And there it was – Computer Systems Analyst. I had never heard of it, but instantly I knew it was my choice. It hit on all the requirements I had set for myself – great salary, ability to travel, and positive career outlook. Now for a country girl who did not know anyone personally who worked with computers this seemed like a stretch, but because of the determination inside me it was going to happen!

Around this same time, my mom brought home a Commodore 64 system for me & my siblings to explore. Learning to code in BASIC opened up a new world and aligned with the career choice I had made during that faithful assignment.  

My love of computing and technology was ignited at an early age & I went on to earn both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Computer Information Systems, sustaining a 20+ year Engineering career with Government and private sector industries that has allowed me to achieve the goals from my 5th grade assignment. 🙂

Over the years a few constants have remained – my curiosity & quest for understanding, my dream that the world will be changed through technology & the joy of serving others instilled in me by my mother.

Early in my childhood, we tragically lost our father, William. My siblings and I were raised by our amazing mother who instilled in us a love of family and deep sense of community and benevolence. She encouraged & supported each of us while continually displaying resilience and perseverance daily. All that I am, I owe to my mother, Cynthia.