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Jill Biden surprises Glamour's College Women of the Year Award winners over Zoom

Jill Biden has continued to teach at a community college while serving as first lady.
/ Source: TODAY

Glamour is honoring community college students with its annual College Women of the Year Awards, surprising two lucky recipients with a Zoom call from first lady Jill Biden.

Glamour has used the awards to celebrate outstanding women seeking higher education for more than six decades. Previous years have mostly highlighted students at private institutions, like Ivy League schools, which are inaccessible to so many. But this year, the magazine was inspired by Biden's passion for community colleges — she currently teaches at one in a Washington, D.C., suburb — to shine a light on the opportunities they provide. The 2021 class of seven honorees is the magazine's most diverse ever.

One student who got to chat with the first lady, Tay Mosely, 46, a student at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, said during the conversation that she wants to earn her Ph.D. (Biden holds a doctorate of education.) Mosely also wants to start her own catering company and is an advocate for mental health awareness, using her blog, Tay's Bipolar Kitchen, to teach cooking and wellness techniques.

Katherine Haley, a 29-year-old graduate of Bristol Community College in Fall River, Massachusetts, thanked the first lady for inspiring millions of Americans.

"You are giving hope to so many people that need it," said Haley, a psychology major who has dealt with homelessness and addiction. "You're amazing."

Biden has a special connection to community colleges. In a recent interview with Glamour's editor-in-chief, Samantha Barry, she said she found her "home" as a professor at Northern Virginia Community College after 13 years of teaching high school students.

"I felt it was my niche," Biden told Barry. "I started teaching there, and I saw the students, how serious they were about their education and how tough it was for them that they were working, and they were going to school, and they had children, or some were taking care of older parents. So I just saw just the resilience of the community college, and I loved that about it."

Biden added that she's especially interested in mentoring female students, as she sees herself in them.

"I see so many women who, like myself when I went for my advanced degrees, I had three children, I was teaching every day, and then I was going to grad school," Biden recalled. "And here, I'm teaching women who are working jobs, they have children, but they're trying to get ahead and make a better life for themselves and their children. I thought it was important to help them."

"People should know that (community colleges) are a stepping stone to whatever they want to do in the future," Biden continued. "They provide such a good, strong foundation. I think that they're very nurturing. The classes are smaller. All you need is one person to believe in you, and then you can soar. So this is just the beginning for so many students."