When Valerie Thompkins isn’t working a 9 to 5, she is challenging young minds to pursue high-paying careers.
The Ohio native is the author of the children’s book “Girls Like Me,” which she wrote while maintaining her position as a project manager at the Federal Reserve Bank. Thompkins was looking for another medium to contribute to the world outside of her role.
Thus, “Girls Like Me,” was born.
The book was crafted to inspire children to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and other career paths associated with higher salaries.
“I wanted to write about careers specifically because when I was growing up, we were told to go to college, and get a job, but we weren’t really encouraged to pursue STEM careers or careers that led to higher salaries. I wanted to write a book so that little girls could be introduced to all the different careers that they can pursue from an early age,” Thompkins said in an exclusive interview with AfroTech.
Her decision to pen the book was inspired by a lack of exposure to certain career paths, which was increasingly difficult as a first-generation college student.
Thompkins reveals her current position at the Federal Reserve Bank was possible because she stumbled upon an internship while in college. It wasn’t until she landed that opportunity that she recognized she could pursue a career in banking.
“I just feel like I was really late to the party when you’re coming in first-generation a lot of the time,” Thompkins explained. “So, it was sort of a struggle that I had and I identified with, and I wanted to sort of fill a need for younger girls coming up.”
The cover of Thompkins’ debut book shows a young girl adorned in her afro, sporting a white coat and a stethoscope. The visual along with the book’s storytelling is already signaling a message for readers as young as babies and toddlers to become doctors, engineers, and pilots.
“They’re really excited at seeing someone with brown skin in natural hair in a job role that they’ve never seen before,” Thompkins expressed.
What’s To Come
Thompson says “Girls Like Me” has already resonated with 10,000 readers, and she has plans to replicate the book’s message in a follow-up geared toward Black boys.
In the future, she hopes to release a children’s financial literacy book.