Bidens come to Bay Area for fundraiser and community college visit

CUPERTINO, Calif. (KTVU) - While Vice-President Joe Biden attended a political fundraiser at the Getty home in San Francisco, his wife headed to Cupertino to a college.

Fresh off the plane, Jill Biden arrived at De Anza Community College for a brief meeting with students. Biden herself is an educator and has used her position as a pulpit to advocate for community colleges.

A group of some 20 students, alumni and teachers gathered to greet Biden, who arrived about 7 p.m. Thursday. "My students are not quiet, so please feel free to just relax," Biden told the group.

Asked by one student how they should address her, Jill Biden said although her official title is the United States' "Second Lady" she prefers being called Doctor Biden. She has a doctorate in English and is an educator.

Biden told students she's been teaching for 33 years, 20 of those years in community colleges. She said she now teaches two days a week at Northern Virginia Community College.

"This is the first time I've been to a California community college so my husband was coming out so I thought I'd grab a ride with him. He makes it easy," she said smiling with the students.

Biden says she's traveled to 61 community colleges on her mission to understand best practices and how to keep students in school.

For about a half hour, he listened to the students as they shared their stories and concerns.

"There are some financial aid opportunities that are closed to you because of your age," said one student, who said she was unable to get a Cal-Grant to help with tuition because she was too old.

De Anza's campus in Cupertino has about 23,000 students and has become known for its innovative Community and Civic Engagement Program that gets students involved in the democratic process.

"We value collaboration versus competition and thinking of ourselves as global citizens and how we can engage our communities," said Mia Hernandez, a De Anza college student.

There is also the affordability factor of community colleges which has become increasingly recognized nationwide.

"You can do prerequisites and your GE at community college or at the university and with the community college you're saving more money," said Chelsie Marsh, a De Anza third year student.

Biden briefly addressed students in a film screenwriting class, laughing with the students as she met the instructor Barak Goldman. "Hi, I'm Jill," she said, "Barak, another Barak?"

Before leaving she offered words of encouragement. "I just want to say hi and wish you good luck this semester," Biden said.

"I was incredibly pleased with how the whole talk went and Dr. Biden was just so down to earth and to learn that she teaches at a community college and made that firm choice and that she wants to be there, it was just really inspiring," said Alexander Espinosa Pieb, a De Anza College student.

Biden spent about an hour on campus and students hope despite the brief visit, she'll take their stories back to Washington.