Thom matured early. When he was 15 and in grade 10 two girls asked him to their disparate graduation dances/proms; one at 14 was leaving junior high and one at 18, high school. He escorted each of them. Another girl friend introduced him to the glee club. Afterwards he sang bit parts in high school musical productions. Thom loved sports and played hockey, soccer, golf and curling. He was a DJ in the high school radio station. In his final year at Fredericton High School he became Vice-President of the Student Council.
An exceptional chemistry teacher in high school gave Thom a life-long fascination with the subject. Thom remembered his early school years in Ontario with fondness and chose to attend the University of Waterloo where there was a co-op program in chemical engineering. This gave him valuable work experience and allowed him to pretty well support himself throughout five years of university. His work terms were almost all spent in the petroleum industry. Upon graduation there was an economic slump and there was no job to return to in the tar sands at Fort McMurray. He learned how to scramble to find work in his chosen field.