By Bill Parry
Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, spoke to hundreds of current and prospective students at LaGuardia Community College last week, promoting President Obama’s “America’s College Promise” proposal to make the first two years of community college free for qualifying students.
Biden’s presentation was part of LaGuardia’s Heads Up America Open House that showcases the different programs and opportunities the college offers.
“President Obama and I believe all students, new and returning, should be able to graduate ready for the new economy without being saddled with decades of debt,” Biden said. “Education is the great equalizer. Through our ‘Heads Up America’ campaign we’re creating a national environment that celebrates community colleges.”
She noted that the president’s proposal to make the first two years of community college free would benefit 9 million students a year. Joining Biden was LaGuardia Community College President Dr. Gail Mellow, who sits on the College Promise Advisory Board.
“Dr. Jill Biden is here because of her passionate belief in your future,” Mellow said. “She knows that if we are going to have an America that is strong and effective, that we need to invest in our nation’s community colleges.”
Mellow introduced a current LaGuardia student, 18-year-old Rachel Chambers, who appears in the Heads Up America public service announcement with comedian Louis C.K. The PSA, which also stars comedian Chris Rock, points out the average college graduate in the United States is saddled with $28,000 in debt.
Chambers, a social science and humanities major whose mother is an alumnus of LaGuardia, said she is grateful to attend the school but tuition poses a financial burden to her family. She urged audience members to register their support for the president’s proposal by visiting Heads
Biden, who teaches full time as an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College, noted the need to destigmatize community colleges and let members of the public know about the millions of people nationwide who have achieved an affordable, quality education at a community college.
“So many successful Americans went to community college and wouldn’t be where they are today without the education and support they received,” Biden said, mentioning several prominent Americans who attended community colleges, including actor Tom Hanks and former NASA astronaut Eileen Collins.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr