First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is just like the rest of us, having had to acclimate to the switch to virtual working during the pandemic.
“Last spring I taught virtually. It was hard. I had to go through training. I had to learn how to do it and if any of you in here are teachers you know one of the first things you do is try to create community in your classroom. It’s so important,” she told an audience at Forbes headquarters in New York City. “I feel like I accomplished that. I loved my classes. I had one class of young boys who were fun and funny. Then I had another class of mostly women who were moms going back to school trying to get their degrees so of course during the time that we were on Zoom there would be all these kids running across….It worked, but this semester I really wanted to be in the classroom.”
Dr. Biden has been a community college professor at Northern Virginia Community College since 2009, but said that not much has changed there since she became first lady — apart from the fact that her students had to go through security.
“My dean came in and said, ‘Dr. Biden has been teaching here since 2009, teaching English, teaching this course, and she also happens to be first lady, but while she’s here at NOVA she’s your English teacher.’ And I promise you that no one has said to me the words White House or first lady and I just loved that they saw me as their English teacher. That’s how they treated me and felt that was a gift that they gave to me.”
Dr. Biden, who just wrapped up finals, was at Forbes to help celebrate its “50 Over 50” list, which was launched earlier this year in partnership with Mika Brzezinski’s Know Your Value campaign to shine a light on women over the age of 50 who have achieved significant success later in life.
“You think I’m going to tell you to sit back, relax, do exercise. No. I have a list of things I want you to do. We’ve got to work harder, we can’t just sit back,” Dr. Biden told the audience which included civil rights activist Opal Lee, TheRealReal founder and chief executive officer Julie Wainwright and Beautyblender founder Rea Ann Silva.
“I know I always say that I’m not political, but I have to say this: We have to teach younger women how important it is to be involved in public service because we have to get more women elected to Congress,” she said. “We have to get more women elected to Congress. We need more women on the Supreme Court….You cannot take it for granted that things are going to change. You have to continue to work as hard as you can. You’re already doing a lot, but my God, it’s so worthwhile when you look where we’re going for our girls, our granddaughters, our sons and grandsons.”
“Over the years, Forbes created a global community with thousands of innovators, gamechangers and rulebreakers around the world through its 30 Under 30 list,” said Brzezinski. “This year, in partnership together, we introduced 50 Over 50 to shine a bright light on the women who are rewriting the rules for success and shattering the prevailing misconceptions about age and gender in the workforce. By merging the two communities, we’re in a unique position to activate a worldwide, multigenerational community of leaders who can bring about meaningful change that benefits women everywhere.”
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