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Second lady Jill Biden speaks about Community Colleges in Roanoke

Second lady Jill Biden speaks about Community Colleges in Roanoke (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE (WSLS10) - Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden was in Roanoke Wednesday delivering the keynote address at the Virginia community college systems "New horizons conference."

More than half of all high school graduates in the U.S. have plans to attend a community college next year. Biden, a community college professor herself, said it is more important than ever to make sure those students succeed.

"As we have all seen, more and more people are realizing that a high school degree isn't enough," Biden said.

Despite her role as Second Lady, Biden remains committed to teaching and the importance the role of a community college plays in local communities.

"They are turning to community colleges to provide them for the opportunity they deserve to reach their full potential," Biden said.

Potential that for some students is being met at Virginia Western Community College. An institution Vice President Elizabeth Wilmer says is building a workforce in the Roanoke Valley.

"We play a huge roll in economic development in the Roanoke Valley. The skills that our students have to go to work and to be productive members are really important and it's important to our community," Wilmer said.

For many, earning a degree means balancing class with a full time job or even parenting. Biden says it's now more important than ever to do whatever is necessary to ensure their success.

"Simply enrolling in a community college isn't enough" Biden said. "It is important that we retain students and help them earn their degree because by the end of this decade in just five years, 2 thirds of all jobs will require some form of higher education."

Biden says not only is earning a degree important for the student but for the overall economy.