Fri, 26 Feb 2021

Jill Biden: The First First Lady to Hold Two Jobs

Voice of America
22 Jan 2021, 08:35 GMT+10

First lady Jill Biden took leave from her teaching job last year to assist with her husband's campaign for president, but the longtime political spouse is not planning on giving up on her career.

Biden became the first second lady to hold a paying job outside the White House while her husband was vice president. Now she intends to continue teaching writing at Northern Virginia Community College, just south of Washington, where she taught full time while her husband was vice president.

"Many of my students don't know that I have two jobs," the first lady said.

Jill Biden is very familiar with life in Washington, since her husband, newly inaugurated President Joe Biden, spent 36 years in the U.S. Senate and eight years as vice president under Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama, second from left, accompanied by, from left, first lady Michelle Obama, Army Maj. Gen. Michael J... FILE - Dr. Jill Biden, right, stands with first lady Michelle Obama, left, newly inaugurated President Barack Obama, second left, and Vice President Joe Biden, second right, at the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013.

Now, Democrat Joe Biden's election victory has given Jill Biden the distinction of being the first presidential spouse to have earned a doctorate. Betty Boyd Caroli, who wrote the book First Ladies, told VOA that Biden is in a unique position.

"I would expect her to be very active in suggesting specific reforms to the education system, but not everybody agrees," Caroli said. "You know, many people would like the first lady who keeps her mouth shut and is seen only in the very best clothes. I'm not in that school. I really think it's a powerful platform."

Biden, 69, was born in New Jersey and grew up in in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She earned her doctorate in education from the University of Delaware.

Life with Joe Biden was complicated from the start. She was going through a divorce. He was grieving, raising two young sons alone after his wife and baby daughter had died in a car crash. Jill and Joe married, after Joe asked five times.

"And the fifth time, I finally said to her, 'Jill, my Irish pride has gotten a hold of me. This is the last time I'm gonna ask you,' Biden said on the "Rachael Ray Show." "I said, 'You don't have to tell me when you will marry me, just if you'll marry me.' She said, 'Yes.' "

U.S. President Joe Biden, his wife Jill and members of their family walk to the White House during the Inauguration Day parade,... U.S. President Joe Biden, his wife, Jill, and members of their family walk to the White House during the Inauguration Day parade, in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021.

Four years later, Jill gave birth to a daughter. Tragedy struck again in 2015 when Joe Biden's 46-year-old son, Beau, died of brain cancer. "This is personal for me and my husband Joe," she said.

Jill Biden then added cancer initiatives to her list of causes.

In June of last year, Jill Biden wrote a children's book about her husband's early years, his competitiveness, and his resilience after being mocked over his stutter.

She displayed that protective streak during a campaign rally in March of last year, using her body on two occasions to block a protester from reaching her husband on a stage.

Although they call the tiny mid-Atlantic state of Delaware their home, Jill Biden has followed her husband through his career as U.S. senator and then into the vice president's mansion. Now she returns to Washington for at least four years in the White House.

VOA's Carolyn Presutti contributed to this report.

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