I have been blessed with jobs that have taken me many places. From the California State Legislature and my time on Capital Hill, to my current post as your Secretary of Labor, public service has allowed me to see so much of what our nation has to offer. But what started it all, and what remains as one of the most important positions I have held, was when my friends urged me to run for my first elected office as a member of the Rio Hondo Community College board of trustees.
What I quickly learned at Rio Hondo, and still believe today, is that community colleges are an amazing and often undervalued choice in post-secondary education. Community colleges are unmatched in their ability to reach students in diverse communities and meet the needs of many who might not think that higher education was “for them.”
Recently, we have seen an unprecedented demand placed on the community college system. As their reputations grow, and education becomes increasingly expensive, more and more students are realizing the value of community colleges. Not only do recent high-school graduates look to community colleges for top-notch education, many skilled workers are returning to school to prepare for new careers.
In today’s competitive job market, ensuring that community colleges continue to excel and that they remain the institutions workers and employers can count on to provide career-focused education is more important than ever. These schools must have the resources needed to meet the demands of a new generation of students and workers seeking to upgrade their skills.
Little did I know when I joined the Rio Hondo board, that 25 years later I would have the opportunity to participate in this exciting national discourse. Community colleges face many challenges, but they are one of our best resources when it comes to providing a good education – leading to good jobs – for everyone.
On October 5, Dr. Jill Biden will be hosting the first ever White House Summit on Community Colleges. To learn more and find out how you can get involved go to WhiteHouse.gov/CommunityCollege.