After former Vice President Joe Biden's Super Tuesday rally in Los Angeles on March 3, a rather unlikely photo went viral: one of his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, physically putting herself between her husband and an animal rights protester who had rushed the stage. Twitter users have applauded Biden for coming to her husband's defense — something that she's often done on the campaign trail, though not usually in such a physical way. But beyond the viral photos and the extensive campaigning, who is Jill Biden? The former second lady has a whole lot of accomplishments under her belt.
Although Jill Biden, 68, has been in the news recently for her evidently impressive linebacker skills, she's actually got a lot of other skills. Biden was born Jill Jacobs in New Jersey and grew up in Pennsylvania, where she graduated from Moreland High School in 1969, per Vogue. She studied fashion merchandising at a junior college in Pennsylvania, Vogue reported, but that was short-lived and she left the program. In February 1970, she married Bill Stevenson, and both of them enrolled at the University of Delaware, where Biden — then named Stevenson — declared an English major. According to The Review, the University of Delaware's student newspaper, the couple soon drifted apart, and they got a divorce in 1976. Biden took a year-long break from college to do some modeling work, and she graduated from the University of Delaware in 1975, after which she started working as an English teacher and reading specialist in Delaware public schools as well as a psychiatric hospital.
Around that same time, Jill and Joe Biden went out for the first time — on a blind date, per Town & Country Magazine. In an interview with Vogue, Jill Biden said that her future husband was nine years older than her, and she was still in college at the time, but they "really hit it off." Joe Biden had also been married before — to Neila Hunter, who died in a 1972 car accident along with their one-year-old daughter, Naomi. Joe and Jill Biden got married in June 1977 — after Joe Biden had proposed five times — and their daughter Ashley was born in 1981.
As Politico reported back in 2008, Jill Biden was not the typical career politician's wife. In 1981, while she was pregnant with Ashley, she got a master's degree in reading from West Chester University. Then, in 1987, she got a second master's degree in English from Villanova University. As she continued her education, Biden was simultaneously working and raising her kids. While she was getting her second master's degree, Biden was also still teaching at Claymont High School, per Vogue. Later, Biden went on to teach English Composition at Delaware Technical and Community College, per Town & Country Magazine, and she continued to teach there for 15 years. Then, as her husband campaigned alongside then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, Biden went back to school yet again — this time for a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware, which she graduated with in 2007. Oh, and according to The New York Times, she was running five miles a day, five days a week during all this.
In 2008, of course, Biden's husband won the vice presidency and headed to the White House with Obama. According to Politico, second ladies typically maintain a lower profile than first ladies, but former second ladies Lynne Cheney and Tipper Gore had previously challenged that norm — and Biden, in turn, went one step further by maintaining a paid job while her husband was vice president. In January 2009, the Obama administration released a statement noting that Biden would continue her decades-long career as an educator by teaching two English courses at Northern Virginia Community College.
Beyond her education credentials, Biden has been active in social and professional programs. In 1993, she started the Biden Breast Health Initiative, which according to The New York Times taught teen girls in Delaware (where her husband was a senator) about breast health. in February 2017, after her husband left his role in the White House, the couple also launched the Biden Foundation, which took on multiple causes including violence against women, LGBTQ rights, and education. (The Biden Foundation suspended operations in April 2019, when Vice President Biden announced his campaign for president.) Also in February 2017, she was named the board chair of humanitarian aid group Save The Children. And in 2019, she published a memoir, titled Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself. When does this woman sleep?
Biden tackling an animal rights protester may be getting her a lot of attention, but the former second lady has long been a powerhouse. She worked full-time while raising a family, obtaining multiple degrees, and supporting her husband on the campaign trail multiple times. Now, as her husband of 42 years once again hits the trail — this time aiming for the country's highest elected office — Biden is right there with him.