On the road to Dixon with Jill Biden

Jill Biden is traveling to Dixon, Illinois with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to visit Sauk Valley Community College.


The pool has been COVID-tested and loaded into vans. Motorcade departed the White House, en route to Joint Base Andrews, at 9:22 a.m. Pool did not see FLOTUS before our departure.
 
Here is the guidance for the day from the East Wing:
 
On Monday, April 19, First Lady Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will travel to Dixon, Illinois to visit Sauk Valley Community College. 

At 11:00 AM CT, the First Lady and Secretary Cardona will arrive at Quad Cities International Airport in Moline, Illinois. This arrival is pooled press.
 
At 12:40 PM CT, the First Lady and Secretary Cardona will tour Sauk Valley Community College. The tour will be pooled press. Following the tour, the First Lady and Secretary Cardona will deliver remarks. This event is pooled press. 

***

Dr. Biden’s motorcade arrived at JBA at 9:40 after an uneventful ride.

FLOTUS boarded the plane at 9:44.

The expected flight time of the trip from JBA is to Quad Cities International Airport in Moline, Illinois is 2 hours and 5 minutes.

Here are the staff traveling with FLOTUS and Secretary Cardona, per her office. Sheila Nix was also formerly Dr. Biden’s chief of staff in the Obama administration.

TRAVELING STAFF

Anthony Bernal, Senior Advisor 

Julissa Reynoso, Chief of Staff 

Sheila Nix, Chief of Staff to Secretary Cardona

Mala Adiga, Director of Policy & Projects 

Michael LaRosa, Press Secretary 

Jordan Montoya, Trip Director & Director of Advance 

Cameron Smith, Photographer 

Jonathan Hebert, Videographer

***

Motorcade arrived at Sauk Valley Community College at 12:12. FLOTUS will participate in a tour of the school along with Cardona, Illinois Gov. J.B. Prtizker, Rep. Cheri Bustos, college President Dave Hellmich, and students, recent graduates, professors and administrators.
 
There were small groups of sign-wavers, both friendly and negative, on the side of the road driving into the college. One sign mentioned a stolen election, while others thanked and welcomed Biden and Pritzker. The college had also set up large “Welcome Dr. Biden” signs.
 
Bustos, Pritzker, Cardona and FLOTUS greeted each other and made small talk about the weather — it’s expected to snow tomorrow — before walking into the college’s main building.
 
Here is info on the school and the tour, along with biographies of tour participants, courtesy of FLOTUS’ office.
 
BACKGROUND 
 
The First Lady and Secretary Cardona will visit Sauk Valley Community College (SVCC) and give remarks to underscore the First Lady’s longstanding work with community colleges and the vital role community colleges play in providing economic opportunities for their students.
 
Sauk Valley Community College (SVCC), a public community college founded in 1965, is located in Dixon, Illinois. Sauk Valley Community College currently enrolls about 1,600 students. Just under half of students attend Sauk Valley part-time and the remainder attend full-time. In total, SVCC offers 6 associate degrees in 58 programs of study across sectors including agriculture, health and safety, manufacturing technology, education, and computer information systems. They also offer 34 certificate programs. 
 
SEQUENCE OF EVENTS
 
They will first receive an overview of Sauk Valley Community College, including its upcoming Impact Program, which aims to expand access to higher education. The Impact Program will offer tuition to students who perform community service. Students will be expected to enroll in the program during their freshman year of high school and perform 25 hours of community service each year.
 
After the briefing, they will visit two classrooms: the Multicraft lab and the nursing lab. During the stops, faculty members and students will speak about their experience and how both programs provide students with skills that are in high demand in the region.
 
After the tour, Secretary Cardona and the First Lady will give remarks. The First Lady will be introduced by Abril Vasquez-Tapia, a student at SVCC.
 
TOUR PARTICIPANTS
 
Dr. Miguel Cardona, US Secretary of Education
Dr. Cardona was sworn in as US Secretary of Education on March 2nd, 2021. A native of Meriden, Connecticut, Cardona began his career as a fourth-grade teacher at Israel Putnam Elementary School in Meriden. In 2003, at the age of 27, he was named principal of Hanover School, also in Meriden, making him the youngest principal in the state. He worked in this role for a decade before becoming the superintendent for teaching and learning in Meriden, Connecticut, in 2013. In 2019, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) appointed Cardona as the state commissioner of education. Dr. Cardona received his bachelor's degree from Central Connecticut State University and master's degree in bilingual and bicultural education from the University of Connecticut. He also completed the administrator preparation program and earned his Ed.D. and superintendent certificate from the University of Connecticut.
 
Governor J.B. Pritzker 
Governor Pritzker was sworn in as the 43rd governor of the state of Illinois on January 14, 2019. Before becoming governor, Pritzker founded 1871, the non-profit small business incubator in Chicago.
Pritzker was born and raised in Atherton, California, and graduated from Duke University and Northwestern University School of Law. He is an attorney and a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Association.
 
Congresswoman Cheri Bustos
Bustos has represented Illinois’s 17th congressional district since 2013.  The 17th district is located in northwestern Illinois and includes Moline, Rock Island, and parts of Peoria and Rockford.  Bustos was elected following redistricting.  Trump narrowly carried the district in both 2016 and 2020. Bustos is a member of Democratic Leadership serving as a co-chair of the Steering and Policy Committee.  Prior to her election, Bustos served on the East Moline City Council. She serves on the Agriculture and Appropriations Committees. Bustos is married to Gerry and has three adult sons (Tony, Nick, and Joey) and two grandchildren.
 
Dr. Dave Hellmich, President, Sauk Valley Community College
Dave began his tenure as the President of Sauk Valley Community College in July of 2015. He serves on the Board of the Dixon Area Chamber of Commerce, KSB Hospital, Rock River Hospice and Home, and the Sauk Valley Community Leadership Program. Prior to coming to SVCC, he served for 28 years as an administrator and English professor at community colleges in Florida, Minnesota, and Kentucky.
 
Steven McPherson, Associate Professor of Electronics/Technology
Steven is an associate professor of electronics/technology at SVCC. He received a Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in engineering from Northern Illinois University and an Associate’s from Sauk Valley Community College. Prior to Sauk, he worked in electronics service and consulting for over 20 years. He teaches classes in electronics, engineering, physics, mathematics, and industrial seminars in Multicraft Technology.
 
Eric Rosenow, Student 
Eric Rosenow is currently a Multicraft Technology student. Eric Rosenow grew up in rural Sterling, Illinois. He graduated from Sterling High School and began working at Wahl Clipper Corporation over 20 years ago. As a manufacturing engineer, he works on highly automated equipment, which is what led him to SVCC.
 
Scott Gillihan, SVCC Welding Instructor 
Scott earned his Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S) at SVCC. He held Journeyman Cards for Multi Craft Millwright/Welder with both United Steel Workers and United Auto Workers. He is a Certified Welding Inspector and Certified Welding Educator through the American Welding Society. Scott has been Lead Welding Instructor at the college since the welding program started in 2006.
 
Crystal Collinson, Graduate 
Crystal graduated from SVCC’s welding program with three certificates, making both the President's and Dean's lists along the way. She is currently working at Etnyre, a local manufacturing company.
 
Christy Vincent, SVCC Dean of Health Professions 
Christy’s nursing career started at SVCC in the Associate’s Degree in Nursing program. The majority of her career has focused on the care of people within the Sauk Valley area. She provided direct patient care at one of Sauk Valley’s partner hospitals and then moved to academia.
 
Patricia Garcia, Student 
Patricia Garcia is currently a nursing student. She served our country in the armed forces, serving in the Army’s flight operations.
 
Karl Drucklieb, Student 
Karl is currently a nursing student and also serves as a math tutor for students at SVCC. Karl resides in Polo, Illinois. 
 
Abril Vasquez-Tapia (Introducing the First Lady) 
Abril is a first-generation high school and college graduate. She is graduating this year from SVCC with an Associate's Degree in Arts. Abril will continue her education at SVCC this fall by pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Nursing. She is currently serving as student trustee and is the Rotaract club treasurer. 

***

FLOTUS and Secretary Cardona discussed the importance of community colleges to the economy in remarks before a socially-distanced crowd of about 30 in Sauk Valley Community College’s gymnasium

Cardona opened by discussing what the administration has done to help colleges and universities since coming into office, noting the American Rescue Plan includes $40 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the infrastructure proposal could help build and rebuild college facilities and the administration’s “skinny budget” would increase the size of the maximum pell grant by $400.

“Education is the best economic driver,” Cardona said, later adding a reference to the First Lady: “It helps to have a teacher in the White House.”

Abril Vasquez-Tapia, a nursing and arts student who is a first-generation high school graduate, introduced the first lady. 

FLOTUS spoke for roughly 10 minutes, discussing her experiences as an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College, the virtues of the nation’s community college system and extolling a program at Sauk Valley Community College that offers tuition breaks to students who complete community service while they’re in high school.

“We are reimagining our education system from pre-school to College,” Biden said, adding later: “We can’t continue to exclude some people from continuing their education just because they’re from the wrong income bracket.”  

Earlier, FLOTUS, Pritzker, Bustos and Cardona, visited two labs at Sauk Valley Community College, talking with students and professors at both. In the first, the Multicraft lab -- which trains students in a mix of mechanical engineering and electrical knowledge to prepare them for manufacturing jobs -- they discussed the need for the program to adapt continuously to what local employers want. They also demonstrated the college’s robotic welder for FLOTUS + the other dignitaries. 

At the second, the nursing lab, they discussed how the coronavirus pandemic forced the program to adapt. FLOTUS led a quick round of applause for two students who were graduating and were practicing on mannequin patients. One of the students was a 64-year-old who had returned to school to finish her nursing degree.

 

 

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