Working for the White House isn’t the destination for Long Beach State alumna Asjia Garner.
It’s part of her journey.
As communications coordinator for the First Lady Jill Biden, Garner said her work focuses on strategic communications and elevating her message.
It’s exciting and challenging work, but as Garner said, “I’m here to make a difference.”
The news that this position was being offered to Garner humbled her.
She said she was honored to serve Dr. Biden and everything she stood for, from education to military and immigration family reunification.
“I was just really excited to be a part of those pillars and help elevate her initiatives,” Garner said. “On the campaign, all I could think about was, ‘We have to win, we have to win.’ I didn’t really think much about what would happen after because not winning was not an option. We worked day and night and until 3 a.m. every single day until we did.”
The work is just beginning, Garner said.
But it is work she realized she needed to be part of, not for any career goal, as Garner said.
“I thought that there just had been so much damage in the past four years, impacted so many lives, I just knew that I couldn’t just sit on the sidelines and just watch it happen again,” Garner said.
In 2019, Garner graduated from CSULB, double-majoring in journalism and international studies. She also minored in French.
Journalism was an opportunity to tell stories, something Garner said she always loved, including writing or producing multimedia stories like documentaries or broadcasts. She said she pursued international studies to gain a global perspective that accounted for economic issues, international development issues and women’s rights.
She was an Emma Bowen Foundation fellow, which places students of color in paid internship opportunities in public relations, media and technology companies. Through that, Garner received the opportunity to work at Warner Bros. Studios, first working as a production intern for the teen drama “Pretty Little Liars.”
She later joined the team at Stage 13 at Warner Bros. Digital Networks, which is an original content studio with a focus on creating diverse stories.
Garner, who had already seen through her international studies classes how issues around the world weren’t being portrayed correctly in television, said she was excited to be part of building a diverse team to make Hollywood more inclusive and to ensure the industry accurately portrayed the world we live in.
According to Garner, her position as a communications coordinator is “a shared success” between her family, friends, CSULB professors, mentors and colleagues at Warner Bros., NBC Universal and the Obama Foundation.
To Garner, it takes a village to get you anywhere in your career, each piece of advice, encouragement and lesson valuable.
And one member of that village was particularly ecstatic.
Garner’s mom sent out an email to all of her family, sharing the news. Suddenly, Garner was receiving an influx of text messages, and instantly, she knew how word spread.
But Garner herself navigated through each opportunity by building genuine relationships, like with the friendships she made with the security guards at Warner Brothers or by being gracious, like writing handwritten notes to hiring managers after interviews or after the completion of an internship.
Without having an open mind though, Garner’s present would look different.
It was because of an executive producer at Warner Bros. that Garner applied for an internship at the Obama Foundation and was hired to work there. Up until then, she had never considered political campaigns as a career.
“It’s just moments like that where people will plant a seed in your mind and help you get to the next place,” Garner said.
The beauty of life, Garner said, is the journey.
“It’s amazing to not know what you want to do because you’ll end up in places you never would have ever imagined, which is exactly what is happening to me,” Garner said. “I never thought in a million years I’d be working at the White House. ”
Editor’s note: Asjia Garner told the author that she could not share any explicit details or responsibilities regarding her role as communicators coordinator for Jill Biden. Therefore, what was included in this article was information that Garner could provide the author. Garner also requested the publication include “Dr.” upon second reference when referring to the First Lady. Although this is not part of the Associated Press Style, which the Daily Forty-Niner follows for journalistic standards, an acceptation has been made to honor the request.
Corrections have been made to the article on Feb. 1 at 10:17 p.m. to include more precise language to better convey Garner’s message and her reasoning to serve at the White House. Extraneous language, including the words “like” or “just” in quotes, have been removed as well for the same reason. A quote previously included in this story about former president Donald Trump has also been removed due to its irrelevancy to the story.