Ben on Capitol Hill.
A LAMBEG student is currently undertaking a prestigious summer internship in Washington DC, something he has described as a "fantastic experience".
Ben Mallon, 23, who is currently finishing a MA in Politics at Queen's University, is part of the Washington-Ireland Program (WIP), a six-month program of personal and professional development that brings 30 university students from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to Washington, for summer internships and leadership training.
It begins and ends with community service programs in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
In a Presidential election year, there could never be a better time to experience the US capital, and Ben has been at the heart of politics for the past eight weeks, having been based in the Northern Ireland Bureau (the office of OFMDFM in the USA).
Ben said: "The internship has given me a valuable insight into the workings of a diplomatic mission abroad; in addition to the important role that NI Bureau plays in representing Northern Ireland in North America.
"It has been a fantastic experience working alongside the Northern Ireland Bureau team in DC as they ensure that the positive message of Northern Ireland reaches Capitol Hill and the White House. In addition to ensuring investment and jobs come to Northern Ireland."
The role of the Northern Ireland Bureau is to develop a positive profile of Northern Ireland among US policymakers and opinion-formers by ensuring that the policies of the Northern Ireland Administration and its . associated institutions are known and understood.
Ben, who was recently appointed as an Independent member of the Lisburn Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP), said that through the internship he has been fortunate to meet with influential individuals including Jake Sullivan, Hillary Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff. He was also invited by the British Ambassador to his residence for the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony.
At the weekends Ben has also been involved in working at a homeless shelter, making meals for the homeless of the city. More than 450 young adults from Northern Ireland and the Republic have graduated from WIP, representing twenty-five different universities throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
Speaking about the program, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said: "Many of WIP's four hundred alumni are now emerging as a new generation of leaders committed to peace, stability and prosperity in both Northern Ireland and the Republic."