Mrs. Biden told the graduates of Kingsborough Community College that she had a soft spot for community colleges because she has taught English at one in Virginia for more than 25 years.
"I am a community college teacher not simply because I can help to inspire you, but because you inspire me" she said.
The New York Daily News said Saturday that Mrs. Biden singled out several accomplished students, including some who had to learn English on the fly, or had lost jobs but went back to school to develop skills that will advance them in the workforce.
The Second Lady's experience at the junior-college level and appreciation of their efforts seemed to touch a number of the grads, the Daily News said.
"You have to have been here to know what we are going through, and she has been here," said graduate Grace Simmons, the 44-year mother of a grown daughter. "I want to give back to Brooklyn what Brooklyn gave to me."