Dr. Biden taught at Northern Virginia Community College during the eight years she served as the second lady under the Obama administration.
Dr. Jill Biden could become the only first lady in the role's 231-year history to hold a paid job outside the White House. The 69-year-old, who is poised to succeed Melania Trump as the first lady after her husband Joe Biden emerged as the President-Elect of the United States of America on Saturday, reportedly intends to continue working as an educator. According to USA TODAY, Dr. Biden taught at Northern Virginia Community College during the eight years she served as the second lady under the Obama administration and plans to do the same now with her new role.
Dr. Biden — who holds a bachelor's degree, two master's degrees, and a doctorate of education — reaffirmed her commitment to teaching while speaking to CBS Sunday Morning a couple of months ago. "I hope so. I would love to," she said when asked if she would continue teaching as the first lady. "If we get to the White House, I'm going to continue to teach. It's important, and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions and lift up their profession." Dr. Biden's professional life will also have a substantial influence on her efforts as the first lady, with education being at the top of her agenda along with advocating for military families and cancer awareness.
"The beauty of (being FLOTUS) is that you can define it however you want," Dr. Biden, who has been a teacher for 36 years, told Vogue in July last year. "And that’s what I did as the second lady – I defined that role the way I wanted it to be. I would still work on all the same issues. Education would be right up there, and military families. I'd travel all over this country trying to get free community college." Speaking to PEOPLE in 2009 after beginning her new job as an English professor shortly after moving to Washington DC for her husband's new role as Vice President, she said: "I want to do what I love. I knew if I let any time-lapse, I would be sucked into Joe’s life. I can have my own job, my own life, but also work on issues. I can have it all, really."
Teaching is not what I do. It's who I am.— Dr. Jill Biden (@DrBiden) August 18, 2020
I'll be giving my convention speech tonight from my former classroom.
Brandywine High School. Room 232. pic.twitter.com/NXx1EkqVGq
Still, the lifelong educator took a leave of absence from teaching this year to campaign for her husband and proved herself to be one of the most active spouses hitting the campaign trail. "Joe and I've been married for 42 years. This is how we've always done things. I've campaigned in every election," she told CNN in January. "I go one way, he goes the other way, and so we can cover more ground and talk to more people. He's always supported my career. And this is a critical time for me to support him because, you know, I want change. I want a new president."
"This semester I took off. I just took a leave of absence," added Dr. Biden, who has been spotted grading papers between campaign events. "But if we get to the White House. I mean, I think there would be no better message for teachers to say, 'Hey, look who we are.' We need to lift up the profession and celebrate teachers." First-lady historian Katherine Jellison, a professor at Ohio University, believes Dr. Biden could be a first lady who truly represents the modern American woman — one with both work life and family life.
"She will really be bringing the role of first lady into the 21st century," said Jellison, noting no previous FLOTUS has been "allowed" to juggle both. "Americans have historically wanted their first ladies to be in the White House and at the president's side whenever possible. Maybe the time has come when Americans will be more accepting of the idea that a president's wife can simultaneously be a first lady and a working professional."
"Jill Biden gives every indication she will be a very activist FLOTUS, following the example of Lady Bird Johnson and others; she’s been thinking about it for a long time," said Betty Boyd Caroli, author of multiple White House-related books, including First Ladies. "She should respond to the interests and concerns of today's American women, who are mothers, spouses, and wage earners and struggling to balance all three. I think they will identify with a first lady who also is trying to balance all three roles. Biden has been around Washington longer than any FLOTUS in history, and she should have a full Rolodex of people to help her. I expect her to quickly appoint a large, competent staff to develop her projects and do whatever she thinks will add to her husband’s legacy."