Helen Julia Thayer grew up in North Smithfield, Rhode Island. She attended Pembroke as part of the class of 1922 and majored in English, which she calls her great passion. Thayer was active in a wide variety of clubs and organizations at Pembroke. A varsity basketball player in high school, Helen continued the sport as a substitute on Pembroke’s varsity team. She was the President of the Student Government Association, as well as Chairman of the Question Club. Self-described as “not responsive to public opinion,” Thayer was an ideal leader because she was committed to her positions and the values that they espoused while still being rebellious - she knew how to beat the system while staying within it. Also during her time at Pembroke, Thayer worked at the Pembroke library, at the Pembroke office, and as a babysitter. Besides books, she had a great love of music, a focal point of hers during her years at Pembroke. She had two children with her husband, William Paxton.