Ivy Tech Community College in Valparaiso welcomed First Lady Jill Biden and other federal officials Monday in a visit highlighting the “affordable pathways to good-paying jobs” at the institutions for higher learning.
Biden greeted students and faculty, specifically those involved in renewable energy and technology programs. Both high school and college students had the opportunity to meet the First Lady, who works at a Virginia community college herself.
Other notable visitors included the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk. Officials spoke to the chair of the college’s renewable energy program and faculty shared information about an agreement with a local utility to secure interviews for new graduates.
“This is so exciting,” Biden said while speaking with students in the renewable energy program. “This is the future.”
Valparaiso students also demonstrated a solar energy system simulator for the visitors, according to White House pool reports.
Last month, Biden conducted a similar visit to an Arizona community college, emphasizing the Biden administration’s commitment to local community colleges which includes a combined $95 million in investments.
Apprenticeships and more
Sue Ellspermann, the president of Ivy Tech Community College, and U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan, of the First Congressional District, both addressed the crowd assembled to welcome the First Lady.
Biden spoke for about seven minutes and said she was impressed that the college had its students sit in the front rows rather than high profile figures.
“Two years ago, my husband President Biden made a promise to rebuild the middle class,” she said. “And you know what that exactly does? Who does that is community colleges. And as Joe has said, they provide the best career training in America.”
Biden spoke about registered apprenticeships and about providing dual enrollment opportunities for high school students. She said these are not “a Democrat idea or a Republican idea. They’re American ideas championed by leaders from both parties.”
“High school education just isn’t enough for so many of the jobs of the 21st century,” she said. “But there are great careers out there that can be found with associate’s degrees and certificates and other job training and paths that don’t really require the four years of college.”
Biden teaches English and writing at Northern Virginia Community College, becoming the only First Lady to continue her career outside of the White House. Biden, who holds a doctorate in education, also worked at the school during her husband’s eight-year term as vice president.