----- Original Message -----
From: Jeanmarie Evelly [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 04, 2015 12:45 PM
To: Gleeson, James
Subject: Dr. Biden pool report 1
Dr. Jill Biden was at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Queens, Wednesday as part of “Heads Up America,” a campaign to promote President Obama’s “America’s College Promise,” proposal to make the first two years of community college free for qualifying students. The school also hosted a “Heads Up America Open House,” for current and prospective students to learn about the different programs and opportunities the college offers.
The event began shortly after 11 a.m. in an auditorium filled with LaGuardia students, as well as students from several local New York City High Schools. LaGuardia Community College President Dr. Gail O. Mellow welcomed the crowd.
“Dr. Jill Biden is here because of her passionate belief in your future,” she said.
“She knows that if we are going to have an America that is strong and effective, that what we have to do is really think about education, your education.”
Mellow spoke about Dr. Biden’s experience as a working community college professor, sharing an anecdote about how she once graded papers aboard Air Force One. She then showed a short video of a PSA about “Heads Up America,” which featured several celebrities, including comedians Louie C.K. and Chris Rock, as well as a number of community college students talking about the campaign.
The video also featured LaGuardia student Rachel Chambers, a 18-year-old liberal arts major at the school who got up to the microphone and spoke to the crowd about how grateful she is to be able to attend the school – where her mother is also a graduate - but how it has also been a financial burden.
She said the plan that Dr. Biden and the president are proposing, to make the first two years of community college free, “would make a huge difference in our ability to focus on our studies and move forward in our lives.”
She then introduced Dr. Biden, who began speaking around 11:15 a.m.
Dr. Biden said she was happy to be at LaGuardia, which she called “one of the most innovative and collaborative community colleges in the country.”
She said the “Heads Up America Open House,” was one of 80 similar events taking place this fall at community colleges across the country.
“I’ve heard folks say community colleges aren’t prestigious, or that the education isn’t high quality, but they’re wrong,” she said. “I know differently, and so do the millions of people across the country who have achieved an affordable, quality education at a community college.”
She then talked about several prominent Americans who attended community colleges, including actor Tom Hanks and former NASA astronaut Eileen Collins.
“So many successful Americans went to community college and wouldn’t be where they are today without the education and support they received,” she said.
“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. It’s too hard to get ahead when you start off so far behind.”
She said the President’s proposal to make the first two years of community college free would benefit 9 million students a year.
She then introduced Jean Chatzy, financial editor for the TODAY show, who began speaking around 11: 25 a.m. Chatzy spoke about the importance of a good education in getting a job, and how a recent study showed that the value of a college degree is going up.
“The pay gap between people who go to college and people who don’t go to college has only gotten wider over the years and it’s expected to continue to grow,” she said.
She spoke about how debilitating college debt can be for students and parents, and how students should be “smarter” about taking on debt, making sure the value of a college goes into their decision-making process when choosing a school.
Dr. Biden then returned to the microphone around 11:30 a.m.
“Education is the great equalizer,” she said. “Through our 'Heads Up America' campaign we’re creating a national environment that celebrates community colleges.”
She then asked the audience to go on social media and share their stories about how community college has helped their lives, using the hashtag #headsupamerica.
Dr. Biden then headed to the school’s atrium, where the “Heads Up America Open House,” was taking place. Students from the school’s many clubs -– like the multicultural exchange, straight and gay alliance, Japanese club, etc. – were stationed at tables giving out information about their organizations.
Dr. Biden briefly addressed the crowd, then walked around the room visiting each table, shaking hands and speaking with students.
JEANMARIE EVELLY | REPORTER / PRODUCER
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