Dr Jill Biden likely to be a very different First Lady to Melania Trump
Dr Jill Biden will succeed Melania Trump as the First Lady of the United States (Flotus) – but how will the teacher differ from the former model in the role?
The pair contrast dramatically in a number of ways and have a 19-year age gap, despite their husbands being a similar age. Self-described introvert Dr Biden is known for being a highly-educated advocate for military and womens’ rights, while Slovenian-born Melania had a very different upbringing.
Below we take a look at the two women’s lives and their very different paths to the White House.
Born Jill Jacobs in 1951, Dr Biden – who sees herself as an introvert – is the oldest of five sisters, and was raised by Bonny and Donald Jacobs just outside Philadelphia in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania – the key swing state that confirmed Joe Biden’s victory.
Mrs Trump was born Melanija Knavs in 1970 in the Slovenian industrial town of Sevnica. Her father Viktor was a car dealer while her mother Amalija worked in a textile factory. They lived in an eight-storey building in what was then a part of Communist Yugoslavia.
Dr Biden has been an educator for more than 30 years and earned a Doctorate in Education from the University of Delaware in 2007. She also has two Masters’ degrees, which she completed while working and raising a family.
When she was Second Lady of the United States — during the now President-elect’s spell as vice-president under Barack Obama — she continued to teach English full-time at a community college in Virginia. She previously said she would like to continue teaching if she becomes Flotus.
Mrs Trump’s fashion career began when she moved to the Slovenian capital Ljubljana for high school, and a photographer spotted her in the street. She modelled in Milan, Paris and other fashion hotspots, becoming proficient in English, German, French and Italian in addition to Slovenian and Serbo-Croatian, which was spoken across Yugoslavia.
She changed her name to Melania Knauss and settled in New York in 1996. According to her profile on the White House website, Mrs Trump is ‘first and foremost a mother and wife’.
On her Facebook profile, Dr Biden describes herself as a ‘lifelong educator, military mother, grandmother, sister, author, and wife’.
As Second Lady, her work included bringing attention to the sacrifices made by military families, highlighting the importance of community colleges, and raising awareness of women’s issues, including breast cancer prevention.
Meanwhile, Mrs Trump has a passion for the arts, architecture, design, fashion and beauty, according to her Facebook profile in 2016. The profile says this passion ‘can only be surpassed by her dedication to helping others.
The White House website says she focuses her time on ‘the many issues affecting children’. She spends much of her time meeting children who are patients at hospitals and care centres, the site adds.
What they say about their husbands
After the 2020 presidential race was called on Saturday, First Lady-in-waiting Dr Biden posted a picture of herself with Mr Biden and said: ‘He will be a President for all of our families.’
On this year’s campaign trail she said the US economy has ‘soared’ under Mr Trump’s leadership.
However, some reports are now suggesting that she could divorce the outgoing President.
Dr Biden met her future husband in 1975 and they married in June 1977. Mr Biden’s first wife Neilia and baby daughter Naomi had previously died in a car accident in 1972, which also left surviving sons Beau and Hunter injured.
Dr Biden helped raise the two boys before giving birth to daughter Ashley in 1981. More than 40 years later in 2015, Beau died of a brain tumour aged 46. Dr Biden is now a grandmother.
‘First Dogs’ Champ and Major will also move into the White House with the Bidens.
In 1998, Mrs Trump met then businessman Mr Trump at a party in Manhattan, where the newly separated future President asked for her telephone number. She has said she rebuffed his initial advance because he was with a date that night. But by the next year, they were a couple.
The pair got married in January 2005, and had their son Barron in 2006, the year she became a US citizen. She is the third wife of Mr Trump and 24 years his junior.
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