Jill Biden Says First Lady Role Is 'Honor of a Lifetime' But Loves That Students See Her as an English Teacher

Biden discussed her job as an educator, being a "messenger" for the White House and the need for women to engage in public service with MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski

Jill Biden
Jill Biden. Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty

Jill Biden says it's the "honor of a lifetime" to serve as the First Lady of the United States — but she cherishes dropping the moniker in the classroom where she's Dr. Biden, an English teacher.

Biden, 70, was in New York City Wednesday to chat with MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski during an event to honor the impressive women on Forbes' "50 Over 50" list.

During the Q&A, which aired on Morning Joe Thursday, she spoke about her first day of classes at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) in Alexandria, Virginia, since her husband, President Joe Biden, took office.

"My students the first day that we went in, of course, they had to go through security. So my dean came in and he said, 'You know, Dr. Biden's been teaching here since 2009, teaching English, teaching this course. And she also happens to be first lady. So while she's here at NOVA, she turns into your teacher,'" Biden recalled.

"I can promise you that no one has said to me — except for the last day — said the words 'White House' or 'First Lady,'" she continued. "I just loved that they saw me as their English teacher. That's how they treated me. And I felt that that was a gift that they gave to me."

Although Biden has been busy inside and outside the classroom, she said she prefers to teach in person so she can create community among her writing students. "People are pouring out their hearts and souls on the page," she said. "My students are developmental learners … they need hands-on help."

Still, Biden must be pleased for the winter break. "My semester is finished!" she said, prompting applause from the audience gathered near Manhattan's Union Square. "I wish I'd put three by five cards on each table so I could get a list of books you're reading for my Christmas vacation," she later told the crowd.

Jill Biden
Taylor Hill/WireImage

Biden also elaborated on her recent comments about finding her role in the White House harder than she imagined, despite serving as second lady for eight years when her husband was vice president.

"Let me say, it has been my honor, the honor of a lifetime, to be your First Lady," she said, adding there's "a lot of work to be done."

"I have loved every moment, just visiting Americans across this country, hearing the challenges they're facing, hearing what they want, and then take it back to the White House," she said. "I do feel as though I am a messenger from the White House. So that's why it's a little bit harder [than I thought it would be]. It is constant, but I'm not complaining again. I'm saying it's just … every day."

Biden called on women over 50 to be engaged with issues that their younger peers.

"I know you're going to think I'm going to say, 'Oh, just relax, live your lives.' But I'm not. I've got a list of things I want you to do. Even if you're not in your workplace, I want you to offer scholarships for women to go back to school. I want you to work on childcare," she said, adding that the latter is "not just a women's issue" but a "human issue."

Biden wrapped up her comments with a passionate plea for her audience.

"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. We need more women on. The. Supreme. Court!"

"I said this on the campaign trail. You cannot take it for granted that things are going to change," she added. "You have to continue to work as hard as you can. I know you're doing a million things. But my God, this is so worthwhile."

Related Articles