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Stars That Died

Monday, January 19, 2009

Who is Jill Tracy Jacobs Biden?

Jill Tracy Jacobs Biden [1] is an American educator and the next Second Lady of the United States as the wife of Vice President-elect of the United States Joe Biden,
who served formerly as the United States Senator from Delaware.

Jill Tracy Jacobs was born June 5, 1951 in Hammonton, New Jersey.[2] After moving several times while very young, she grew up in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.[3] Her father, Donald C. Jacobs (c.1927–1999),[4] was a bank teller who became head of a savings and loan in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania.[5] His family name had originally been Giacoppa before being anglicized.[5] Her mother, Bonny Jean Jacobs (c.1930–2008),[6] was a homemaker.[7][4] She has four younger sisters.[6] Her family was not very religious, but in ninth grade, she took classes on her own so she could join the Presbyterian church.[5]

She began working at age 15, including as a waitress at the Jersey shore, and always intended to have her own career.[5][8] She attended Upper Moreland High School, where she was somewhat rebellious and enjoyed social life, but always liked English class.[9] She graduated from there in 1969.[10]

Jacobs enrolled in a junior college in Pennsylvania and began studying fashion merchandising, but did not like it.[5] She married someone she had been dating following high school.[5] She enrolled in the University of Delaware along with him, where she declared English as her major.[5] After two years, the couple grew apart and divorced, when she was a junior at Delaware.[5] She then took a year off from college.[5][8][11] She also did some modelling for a local agency in Wilmington around this time, but never made it a career.[5][12] Subsequently, she returned to college; she met Joe Biden when she was a senior at Delaware in March 1975.[2][8][13] They met on a blind date with Joe Biden's brother's help though it turned out that Biden had unknowingly fancied her, having seen her in a local advertisement.[8] She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Delaware.[14] She began her career teaching English in high school.[8]
Jill Jacobs and Joe Biden were married on June 17, 1977 at the Chapel at the United Nations in New York City, about five years after Joe Biden's first wife and infant daughter died in a car accident[15][7][5] and after several times where she hesitated before accepting the commitment of raising his two young sons who survived the accident.[5] The sons were present on the altar at the ceremony.[13] She continued to teach and then, while pregnant, she received a Master of Education with a specialty in Reading from West Chester University in 1981.[5][16][14] Their daughter Ashley Blazer was born on June 8, 1981.[15] Living in Wilmington, Delaware, Jill Biden stopped working for two years while raising their daughter and his sons.[17]
She then returned to work, teaching English, acting as a reading specialist, and teaching history to emotionally disturbed students.[8] She also worked as a teacher in the adolescent program at the Rockford Center psychiatric hospital for five years in the 1980s.[7][5] In 1987, Biden received a Master of Arts in English from Villanova University.[7][14] During her husband's 1988 bid for the Presidency, she said she would continue her job of teaching emotionally disturbed children even if she became First Lady.[18] In all, she spent 13 years teaching in public high school,[8] including 3 years at Claymont High School.[5]

Since 1993, Biden has been an instructor at the Stanton/Wilmington campus of Delaware Technical & Community College.[14][11][8][19] There she teaches English composition and remedial writing, with an emphasis on instilling confidence in students.[20][11] She has said of teaching at a community college, "I feel like I can make a greater difference in their lives. I just love that population. It just feels really comfortable to me. I love the women who are coming back to school and getting their degrees because they're so focused."[11]
Biden is the president of the Biden Breast Health Initiative, a non-profit organization begun in 1993 that provides educational breast health awareness programs free of charge to schools and other groups in the state of Delaware.[21][22] Biden is also involved with Book Buddies, which gives books to low-income children, and Delaware Boots on the Ground, which supports military families.[20] She runs five miles five days a week, and has run in the Marine Corps Marathon.[8]
She later returned to school for her doctorate, studying under her birth name, Jill Jacobs.[17] She received a Doctor of Education in educational leadership from the University of Delaware in 2007.[7][23] Her dissertation Student Retention at the Community College: Meeting Students' Needs was published under the name Jill Jacobs-Biden.[23]

Following her strong dismay at George W. Bush's reelection in 2004, she urged her husband to run again for President.[11][19] During Joe Biden's 2008 campaign to be the Democratic nominee, she continued to teach during the week and would join him for campaigning on weekends.[19] She said that she would have taken an activist role in addressing education as her chief focus of concern as First Lady.[24] She also said that she was basically apolitical and would not sit in Cabinet meetings.[19]

Once her husband was selected to be Barack Obama's running mate, she began campaigning again. She wore a Blue Star Mothers Club pin in recognition of Beau Biden's deployment to the Iraq war.[11] She was not a polished political speaker, but was able to establish connections with the audience.[11] She also made some joint appearances with Michelle Obama.[12] Throughout the time her husband was running for vice president, Jill Biden continued to teach four days a week at Delaware Technical & Community College during the Fall 2008 semester, and then campaigned over the long weekend, while grading class papers on the campaign bus.[6][11][25] While she will be moving to the vice presidential residence in Washington as Second Lady of the United States, she plans to continue teaching at a Washington-area community college.[12][26][13] She has been weighing offers from institutions such as Montgomery College, Northern Virginia Community College, and the University of the District of Columbia.[27] It has been rare for Second Ladies to work while their spouses were vice president.[12][26] Catherine Russell, a former adviser to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was named Biden's chief-of-staff for her Second Lady role,[28] while Courtney O’Donnell, a former spokesperson for Howard Dean and Elizabeth Edwards, was named her communications director.[29]

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