After a bewildering four years with Republican Donald Trump as President, citizens of the United States voted to oust him in favour of Democrat Joe Biden. Naturally, this means plenty of change is afoot – and not just in terms of political ideology. In selecting Kamala Harris as Vice President, for example, Joe Biden ensured that she would be not only the first female to hold the post, but also the first Black American and the first Asian American. Ultimately, she’s the highest-ranking female elected official in the history of the United States. But Kamala Harris isn’t the only woman in Joe Biden’s life. At the Biden-Harris inauguration, his wife Jill also became First Lady. So who is she?
Joe and Jill Biden are actually each other’s second spouses. Joe’s first wife died in a car accident alongside his baby daughter in 1972, and Jill was married to a former college football player and bar-owner. The couple met on a blind date set up by Joe’s brother (and Jill’s college friend) when Jill was still in college and Joe was a senator. Impressed by his gentlemanly manner, they began dating while Jill was going through divorce proceedings. It took many attempts, however, for Jill to accept Joe’s marriage proposal. She was anxious about the public nature of being a senator’s wife, keen to focus on her own career and wary of the responsibility of raising his two sons who had survived the car accident. Eventually, of course, they did marry. For anyone who’s into astrology, they are probably one of the very few Gemini-Scorpio couples to last.
While Jill never adopted Beau or Hunter Biden, she has always considered them her children, and is now a grandmother to theirs. She gave birth to her daughter, Ashley, in 1981. Tragically, her stepson Beau – the former Attorney General of Delaware – died of glioblastoma in 2015.
If you go on Jill’s social profiles, you will notice that her handle is @DrBiden. Clearly, her career and level of education is of great importance to her – and rightly so.
Always ambitious, her first job was as a waitress in New Jersey. She had meant to study fashion merchandising at college, but instead majored in English at the University of Delaware. Like her predecessor Melania Trump, Jill has also modelled in the past and took a year out of college to do so before graduating. From this point, she was a lifelong teacher. After her marriage to Joe Biden, she continued to teach and worked on her master’s degree in education. It was completed the same year her daughter was born. Returning to work after a period of raising the three Biden children, Jill taught adolescents in a psychiatric hospital for half a decade. Simultaneously, she gained her second graduate degree – a Masters of Arts in English from the University of Villanova. In the 1990s, Jill taught in both a high school and a community college. At 55, she received a Doctor of Education in educational leadership from the University of Delaware.
She has been the president of the Biden Breast Health Initiative since 1993, and helped found Book Buddies – a charity that provides books to children from low-income families – in 2007.
Of course, before she became the designate First Lady of the United States, Jill Biden had been Second Lady during Barack Obama’s presidency – but her involvement with presidential campaigns predates even this period.
Joe Biden had made a bid for presidency back in 1988. While hugely supportive of him, Jill had said that she would continue teaching adolescents in a psychiatric hospital if he was elected. Despite being vehemently opposed to the Iraq war, Jill had not wanted her husband to run in the 2004 presidential election. When George W. Bush was reelected, however, she changed her mind.
As Joe Biden campaigned to be the Democratic nominee for the 2008 presidential election, Jill taught in the week and joined him on the campaign trail at the weekend. Unsurprisingly, she stated that her primary focus as First Lady would be on education. Otherwise, she intended to be somewhat apolitical.
When her husband became the running mate to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, the campaigning continued in similar fashion. As well as making joint appearances with Michelle Obama, Jill was also grading class papers on the campaign bus. After the election was won, she was believed to be the first Second Lady to hold a paying job while in office.
Despite her growing antipathy towards politics causing Jill to assume only a modest role in her husband’s campaign for reelection to Vice President in 2012, she was disappointed when he would not run for the Decomcratic presidential nomination in the next election. Perhaps because of this, her role in his recent presidential campaign was a lot more active – she even took a leave of absence from work so she could commit to it on a full-time basis.
Comparing the tragic history of the Biden family with the nation’s ongoing issues, her speech at the Democratic National Convention – in a classroom she used to teach in – confirmed that she was more relatable than Melania Trump could ever be to voters.
While we’ll miss the Saint Hoax memes about the former First Lady, Jill Biden’s term is set to be one of hope. While she might not yet have the popular glamour of Michelle Obama, she’s certainly got the common sense – and if there’s one thing America needs right now, it’s that.
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