WASHINGTON (AP) — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is highlighting the importance of community colleges in creating economic growth and helping people find jobs.

DeVos is addressing a forum of education leaders in Washington. She's praising community colleges as "essential engines" for the economy.

"Community colleges are a uniquely American national asset," DeVos said. "You are nimble, you are inclusive, you are entrepreneurial."

DeVos was confirmed for the job last week after a rocky nomination battle involving protests, appeals and opposition from two Republican senators. Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote to confirm DeVos by the slimmest possible margin.

DeVos sought to frame her experience positively, calling the process "an expression of passion." She says, "I applaud it."