Jill Biden may become our First Lady but she had a surprisingly modest upbringing, and to this day, counts teaching as the most important thing in her life. From a false start at love, to meeting the man she would partner with for more than four decades, this is one woman whose story you simply must know more about — especially since she, along with Joe Biden, has managed to overcome unthinkable tragedy and will most certainly inspire even the most cynical among us.
According to the BBC, Jill Jacobs was born in New Jersey in 1951, and grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia as one of five sisters. The oldest of the siblings per Biography, Biden originally intended to study fashion merchandising. But, she would end up taking a completely different career path.
Meanwhile, many people may not know that Jill Biden was married before — to a former college football player named Bill Stevenson. They wed the same year she graduated from high school, but the marriage didn’t last long.
Jill Biden met her future husband Joe Biden on a blind date
Jill would go on to meet Joe Biden on a blind date three years after tragedy struck his family. According to Vogue, Biden’s first wife and 1-year-old daughter died in a car accident in 1972 — his sons Hunter and Beau miraculously survived the crash.
It was Biden’s brother who introduced the future couple. As the future Mrs. Biden recounted to Vogue of their first encounter, “I was a senior [in college], and I had been dating guys in jeans and clogs and T-shirts, he came to the door and he had a sport coat and loafers, and I thought, ‘God, this is never going to work, not in a million years.’ He was nine years older than I am! But we went out to see A Man and a Woman at the movie theater in Philadelphia, and we really hit it off. When we came home . . . he shook my hand good night . . . I went upstairs and called my mother at 1:00 a.m. and said, ‘Mom, I finally met a gentleman.'”
They have been married for over 40 years.
Jill Biden's life is teaching
“Teaching is not what I do. It’s who I am,” Biden tweeted in mid-August. Her decades-long career as a teacher proves the statement, as does her recent commitment to keep teaching even if her husband is elected president in November (via CNN). According to the BBC, Biden, who is actually Dr. Biden, holds a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, and a doctorate.
According to Forbes, Biden taught in public schools for 13 years. She also taught at Delaware Technical and Community College, and Northern Virginia Community College, where she held a job during her husband’s time in the White House as Vice President.
Education will be an important part of a Biden administration
As the potential future first lady told CBS News, “If we get to the White House, I’m gonna continue to teach. It’s important, and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions, and lift up the profession.” She is part of the National Education Association, according to Forbes, which also reports it’s likely Biden will champion free community college education if her husband wins the election.
In fact, in 2010, Biden hosted the White House Summit on Community Colleges to shine a spotlight on “community colleges’ role in developing America’s workforce.”
Jill Biden has survived personal tragedy with her husband
The Bidens have a daughter together named Ashley — apparently it was Beau and Hunter who picked out her moniker. They also count six grandchildren among their brood (via Popsugar).
But tragically, Beau passed away from brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46 (via People). Jill Biden told the outlet, “It was totally shattering. My life changed in an instant. All during his illness, I truly believed that he was going to live, up until the moment that he closed his eyes, and I just never gave up hope.” Biden has subsequently written about the shattering loss in her book, Where the Light Enters.
Clearly the devastating loss changed her and her husband forever, but they have also found a way to bravely move forward with hope for the future.
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