Student Speaks in D.C. as Part of GI Bill AnniversaryJune 26, 2014

This week in Washington, D.C., Jeremy Adkins, ’16, said he was proud to be able to follow in others’ footsteps.

Adkins, who is about to enter his second year at Rockhurst University studying secondary education and history, was referring to the service members who came before him in funding their higher education through the GI Bill, which celebrated its 70th anniversary on June 22. He was invited to speak at an event honoring the occasion at George Washington University this week.

Adkins has a unique perspective on the GI Bill, a portion of the 1944 Service Readjustment Act that has allowed millions of service members to pursue college education. Adkins, who enlisted in the army in 2006 and served as a medic during one tour in Iraq, said he was the only student veteran invited to give a speech about the bill’s benefits.

He also spoke, from experience, about the multigenerational impact of the legislation —his grandfather, Joseph Kuestersteffen, used the GI Bill benefits to attend then-Rockhurst College after serving as a bomber pilot in World War II.

“I choose to speak about my grandpa,” Adkins said. “I thought that would be a really good illustration of just how many generations have been affected by this bill in 70 years.”

Kuestersteffen said he had one semester under his belt at Rockhurst after volunteering for service with the Army Air Force when he was called up for duty. When he returned, he said the GI Bill, and Rockhurst, helped him pick up where he left off. He graduated with a physics degree, with minors in mathematics and philosophy, in 1948.

“I knew I wanted to go back if I could,” he said. “And I’m glad I did. I thought the education I got was great.”

For Adkins, the choice was not as obvious. After some persuasion by his grandmother, he said he did meet with a Rockhurst admissions counselor, and he said he hasn’t regretted his decision.

“The fact that my grandpa went to Rockhurst was a big motivator for me, because he’s my hero,” he said. “But the welcome I got when I got here was also huge. I can’t thank Rockhurst enough.”

Adkins said there was no doubt in his mind Rockhurst and the GI Bill have provided both he and his grandfather unique opportunities. When he graduates in two years, he said he plans to teach high-school level history. But he said his “dream job” is to become a faculty member at Rockhurst.

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