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Why was first lady Jill Biden at MCC? She’s on a vaccination mission

May 31, 2021
By Tim Engle

Jill Biden talking with the press
First lady Jill Biden talks up the benefits of COVID-19 shots during a visit to the MCC-Penn Valley Education Center. (Photos by Clay Bussey and Andrew Ryan/MCC)

Jill Biden passing out free-class vouchers
The first lady hands out free-class vouchers to students and others who got vaccinated at the MCC clinic.

Biden greets MCC students
Biden greets an MCC alumnus who’d just gotten a shot.

First lady escorted by Tyjuan Lee
The first lady is escorted into the MCC-Penn Valley Education Center by campus president Tyjaun Lee.

"Really, the community colleges are just special places," first lady Jill Biden said May 27 during a visit to Metropolitan Community College, and we know she means it.

After all, she teaches English at a community college in Virginia, and the day she was here, her husband was speaking at a community college in Cleveland. Also, of course, the Biden administration is pushing for free community college for all Americans.

As for what brought Dr. Jill Biden to Kansas City on a stormy Thursday, the federal government had just launched an initiative to hold vaccination clinics at high-enrollment community colleges. The first two institutions selected for this partnership with retail pharmacies were Grand Rapids (Michigan) Community College … and MCC.

Biden popped into both pop-up clinics on the same day. She arrived at Wheeler Downtown Airport on "Executive One Foxtrot" around 1:30 p.m., was soon whisked to MCC-Penn Valley’s Education Center, and stayed on campus about 30 minutes, perhaps trying to get back in the air ahead of more thunderstorms.

As the day of the event approached, MCC employees and others who were expected to get within 10 feet of the first lady had to test negative for COVID-19.

While here, Biden greeted people getting shots (students and others 18 or older) and people giving shots (from Costco Pharmacy). She also presented free-class vouchers to participants — and encouraged them, naturally, to take an English class. Some said they planned to save the course voucher as a keepsake.

"I think it’s so creative that MCC is offering a free class to those who get vaccinated," the first lady said. More than 125 got shots in arms at the event.

There’s good reason to target college students: In Missouri, just 19% of people between the ages of 15 and 24 are fully vaccinated, The Kansas City Star reported in its coverage of the clinic.

"How’d you do?" Biden asked a just-vaccinated young man in a white shirt and red tie, his sleeve still rolled up.

"I did good," he replied. "I survived!"

"I’m Jill Biden," she said, and the two shook hands. Live video on Twitter captured him telling the first lady that he’s a 2006 MCC alum.

MCC-Penn Valley President Tyjaun Lee, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas were among those on hand to greet Biden.

A reporter asked her how the vaccine-hesitant can be convinced to get the shot: "That’s going to be a sales job, is it not?"

"That’s why I’m here," FLOTUS replied, spreading out her arms.

>> More photos by MCC photographers in a Facebook gallery

>> Flashback: Jill Biden’s 2012 visit to MCC’s Health Science Institute as second lady