As Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, will be right by his side, just as she has been on the campaign trail and throughout his time as the vice president. The new first lady's longtime career as an educator will have her blazing trails in the White House as this half of the political power couple prepares for another four years of advocacy work from her position in the government.
As she prepares to tackle the challenges and take on the opportunities of her new role as first lady, let's take a look back at her accomplished path to the White House, starting with her early life and brief pursuit of the fashion world. Keep scrolling to read more about Jill Biden's life until now.
Born Jill Tracy Jacobs in Hammonton, New Jersey, the future first lady would move to Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, where she lived with her father Donald, who worked at a savings and loan bank; and mom Bonny, a homemaker, as well as her four younger sisters. Graduating from Upper Moreland High School in 1969, Jill went off to junior college, where Vogue reports she studied fashion merchandising briefly before moving on to another course of studies.
In 1970, Jill married Bill Stevenson and the two enrolled in the University of Delaware. The two would grow apart through college and soon divorced. Biden was also experiencing personal tragedy, having lost wife Neilia and 1-year-old daughter Naomi in a car crash just weeks after being elected senator in 1972.prevnext
In 1975, Jill and Biden were set up on a blind date by the future president's brother. Despite Biden's very different life as a senator with two children to Jill's college path, the pair hit it off right away. "We went out to see A Man and a Woman at the movie theater in Philadelphia, and we really hit it off," Jill told Vogue of their first date. "When we came home...he shook my hand good night. I went upstairs and called my mother at 1:00 a.m. and said, 'Mom, I finally met a gentleman.'"
Biden would ultimately propose to Jill five times before she said yes. "By that time, of course, I had fallen in love with the boys, and I really felt that this marriage had to work," Jill said of Biden's sons from his first marriage, Hunter and Beau. "Because they had lost their mom, and I couldn’t have them lose another mother. So I had to be 100% sure."prevnext
The two would marry on June 17, 1977, at the United Nations Chapel in New York City, with Beau and Hunter standing at the altar alongside them. "The way they thought of it, the four of us were getting married," Biden wrote in his memoir, Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics, as per The Washington Post.
In 1981, Jill gave birth to daughter Ashley, and the family settled in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden was known during his time as a senator for his lengthy commute back and forth from Washington D.C., which he made every day so he could spend time with his family.prevnext
Graduating from the University of Delaware in 1975, Jill began work as an English teacher at Delaware public schools and a psychiatric hospital, all while earning her Master's degrees in reading and English from West Chester University in 1981 and Villanova University in 1987, respectively. Jill would later teach English composition at Delaware Technical and Community College, where she would remain for 15 years. In 2006, Jill went back to school for her doctorate in education from the University of Delaware, which she earned in 2007.prevnext
Once her husband is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, Jill will be working not only as first lady but also as an English professor, making her the first of which to hold a paid job outside of the White House. "I'm really looking forward to being first lady and doing the things that [I did] as second lady, carrying on with military families and education and free community college, cancer [the Biden Cancer Initiative], that Joe and I have both worked on," Jill said in an interview last month on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. "And I’m going to teach as well." When asked about the historic implications of her work outside the White House, she responded, "It's hard for me to think of it in historic terms I guess because I taught all eight years when I was second lady."prevnext
In addition to her vow to promote educational efforts, Jill has long supported military families and advocated for breast cancer research and education alongside her husband. In 2011, Jill and former First Lady Michelle Obama launched Joining Forces, a campaign to help military personnel and their spouses find jobs after returning from war.
Cancer has tragically touched the Biden family's life — Beau was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013 and died two years later at just 46. Jill was an advocate for cancer even before her family's tragedy, founding the Biden Breast Cancer Health Initiative in Delaware in 1993 to educate women on the importance of early cancer detection. Over the years, the Bidens' work in cancer has grown to include the Biden Cancer Initiative.prevnext
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When she has a spare moment, Jill is a runner at heart, having gotten into the sport back in the 1990s after participating in a Komen Race for the Cure. Five days a week, she runs five miles at a nine to 10-minute pace, Jill shared with Runner's World in 2010, even if she did have to get used to running with the Secret Service by her side. "I usually have someone ahead of me and someone behind me," Jill said at the time. "I just say to them, 'I need to pretend you’re not here,' because I love to run by myself, and they’re pretty respectful of that."prev