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Not Just the Average Jill (Expanded)

December 14, 2009 - Joselyn King
How many Americans know that Jill Biden ­-- as wife of Vice President Joe Biden, the nation's "second lady" ­-- is an actively teaching professor at an Alexandria, Va. community college that is among the largest in the nation?

It's believed she is the first wife of a vice president to have a paying job while her husband was in office.

Biden said there have been times when she has had an event scheduled at the White House immediately following her teaching duties, and has had to bring a formal gown with her to the classroom then change in restroom, she said in an interview this weekend.

She commented she believes it's very important that women work, and have their own money.

"I wouldn't want to have to ask Joe if I needed $100 for something," Biden continued.

Jobs as "first lady" -- ­ much less "second lady" - ­ are not subsidized positions despite being high profile roles. They also have no defined duties under law.

Perhaps it's time that changed as women's roles have evolved in the nation. It seems only natural that life in executive mansions in Washington would be no different than in homes back in Scranton, Pa. or Delaware ­ --from which the Bidens hail.

Jill Biden has a bachelors degree from the University of a Delaware, masters degrees from West Chester University and Villanova University and a doctorate degree from the University of Delaware.

She presently is an adjunct professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College, and has 30 years of experience in education.

President Barack Obama has seen fit to utilize Jill Biden's background in charging her with increasing awareness of the value of the nation's community colleges.

It occurred to me that wives of some other politicians also have proven themselves as individuals, starting at the top:

--- First Lady Michelle Obama graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, and was working as an attorney when she met her future presidential husband, Barack.

--- West Virginia First Lady Gayle Manchin has a bachelor of Arts in language arts and education and a master of arts in reading. In 1999, she completed a second master’s specialization in educational technology leadership from Salem International University. She also served on the faculty of Fairmont State University and was the director of the college’s first community service learning program.

--- Ohio First Lady Francis Strickland achieved a doctorate in educational psychology at the University of Kentucky. She has worked as an educational psychologist, and authored a screening test for kindergarten-age children and a children’s book -- The Little Girl Who Grew Up To Be Governor.

--- Sharon Percy Rockefeller, the wife of U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va , has served as president and CEO of WETA, Washington, D.C.'s flagship public television and radio stations, since 1989.She is a graduate of Stanford University.

---- Connie Schultz, the wife of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist.

-- And Judge Mary Wade Space, the wife of U.S. Rep. Zack Space, D-Ohio, presides over the New Philadelphia Municipal Court.


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