Rutgers Oral History Archives

Helen Walkinshaw, New Jersey College for Women '52, U.S. Navy, World War II

-On the development of the GI Bill while she was in the Navy during World War II:
I knew about the GI Bill kind of directly from the inside. I was still in naval civil liaison when they were working on the legislation in Congress, which we were maintaining our liaison with. So, in fact, we were called upon to develop some ideas about how it should take place, and what the requirements should be. We were also directly involved in the reformulation of the naval reserve which was part of that same thing, post World War [II] Unification Act, and reformulation and restructuring of the naval reserve, and all of the other military branches, of course. And the final formulation of the context and the provisions of the GI Bill. So we were sitting there in that liaison office, and I knew about it happening even as I was still in the Navy and I had another two years to go, and I said, "Well that's great. I'll still keep saving my money and we'll be ahead of ourselves."

When I came off active duty [in 1948] and went back to Douglass, and stayed in the reserve, of course, I simply bought myself a car and decided I was going to commute instead of living on campus. I figured after five years in the Navy, living in barracks and government quarters, living in a college dormitory was going to be no source of education that I really hadn't had thoroughly worked over in communal living by that time. [laughter]

-On the advantage of having served in the military and then attending NJC on the GI Bill:
[College] was much easier than the Navy. Intellectually, it was fine. It was just a romp, and I was ready for it and I was ready to relax, and spread myself over things like that. I think I never opened a book, even a math book, until my senior year. I mean, all I did was take my class notes and riffle through. I didn't have to study at all. No, it was true. Most people who came through World War II had such a mature vision about things and who particularly knew how to organize their time efficiently, that they had such a terrific head start on anyone who was coming out of high school, you know, that of course it was easy for most of us.