Biography of Jill Biden, Professor and Former Second Lady

Michelle Obama And Jill Biden Attend Attend Women's History Month Reception
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Jill Biden (born Jill Tracy Jacobs on June 3, 1951) is a professor and former second lady of the United States. She has championed America's military families, promoted the importance of community colleges and technical instruction within U.S. higher education, and brought attention to breast cancer prevention. She is married to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

Early Years

Jill Biden (née Jacobs) was born on June 3, 1951 in Hammonton, New Jersey. Her father, Donald Jacobs, was a bank teller, and her mother, Bonny Jacobs, was a homemaker. The eldest of five sisters, Biden spent most of her early years in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. She graduated from Upper Moreland High School in Montgomery County in 1969, then went on to earn a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Delaware in 1975.

Marriage and Personal Life

Jill met Joe Biden in 1975 on a blind date arranged by Joe Biden's brother. The pair married in 1977, a little more than two years later. It was the second marriage for both of them. Joe's first wife, Neilia Hunter, had died in a vehicle crash four years earlier, and Jill's first marriage, to Bill Stevenson, had ended in divorce in 1976.

Jill Biden has said during interviews that she was initially reluctant to marry Joe because of the tragic death of his first wife and its impact on the couple's two young sons: “I said, ‘Not yet. Not yet. Not yet.’ Because by that time, of course, I had fallen in love with the boys, and I really felt that this marriage had to work. Because they had lost their mom, and I couldn’t have them lose another mother. So I had to be 100 percent sure.”

Legacy and Impact

Biden's career as a teacher includes decades of work in public-school classrooms and community colleges, which she continued to champion as the second lady.

Her legacy will also include her status as the first second lady to continue her career while her husband served as vice president. Biden's 2009 announcement that his wife would teach English at Northern Virginia Community College during his first term office drew headlines. "I have always believed in the power of community colleges to endow students with critical life skills, and I am pleased that I can make a difference by doing what I love to do, teaching people who are excited to learn," Biden said in a White House press release.

Jill Biden's legacy also includes championing the sacrifices of military families through the launch of Joining Forces, which seeks to help veterans and spouses find jobs, and advocating for early detection of breast cancer among women through the Biden Breast Health Initiative. Biden has said her role model is Eleanor Roosevelt, whom she has called a "true humanitarian and champion of women's rights and civil rights."

Jill Biden Fast Facts

  • Full Name: Jill Tracy Jacobs Biden
  • Known For: Served as the second lady of the United States during the vice presidency of her husband, Joe Biden
  • Occupation: Professor
  • Born: June 3, 1951 in Hammonton, New Jersey
  • Parents' Names: Bonny and Donald Jacobs
  • Education: University of Delaware (B.A., English), West Chester University (M.A., Reading), University of Delaware (EdD, Education)
  • Key Accomplishments: Co-founder (with Michelle Obama) of Joining Forces, which provides support for members of the military and their families; founder of the Biden Breast Health Initiative in Delaware, which teaches high school girls about breast cancer detection and prevention.
  • Spouse's Name: Joe Biden
  • Children's Names: daughter Ashley Jacobs; stepchildren Hunter and Beau Biden

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