EDUCATION DIVE: Jill Biden promotes benefits of community college at SXSWedu
Career College Central Summary:
In a packed Austin Convention Center conference hall Tuesday morning, Second Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden delivered a keynote on the importance of community colleges to open SXSWedu's Getting to College Graduation Summit.
The summit, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is focused on identifying the major trends in higher education, who they affect, and where the greatest impacts can be made. In 2010, after Melinda Gates joined Biden for a White House summit on community colleges, the foundation invested $35 million in boosting community college completion rates.
Biden was introduced by Christopher Thomas, a Houston Community College student and Texas native who explained that he initially attended South Carolina's Coker College. The cost, however, became too much for his parents and loans to support, and he dropped out during his second year, returning home to attend community college for a more manageable tuition — though he aspires to eventually attend business school after his final semester this summer. This set the stage for much of Biden's keynote.
"I can't agree more with what you said that not only should our young people dream big, but like you, all Americans should have the opportunity to realize their full potential," said Biden, a community college professor who teaches at Northern Virginia Community College, touting Thomas as an example of the many students who seize the opportunity provided by community colleges.
For Biden, the difference she is able to make in the lives of community college students is critical, she told attendees, adding that seeing their confidence in their own abilities improve is especially rewarding. One such student she mentioned, "Shannon," a homeless single mother of two who had left an abusive relationship and was at one point living in a car with her children. Biden assisted her, as part of her Women's Mentoring Project, in writing a scholarship essay so she could transfer to George Mason University. These types of mentorship opportunities, Biden said, are what community colleges "are all about."
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PHOTO CREDIT: WHITEHOUSE.GOV