Local student lands prestigious US internship
An ambitious Crossmaglen student is set to soar into the world of young leadership after being selected for an exceptional US-Irish programme which aims to develop promising leaders of the future.
Twenty-three-year-old Kilian Thornton has been given the opportunity to take part in the prestigious Washington Ireland Program (WIP), which boasts a list of prominent alums that includes Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, as well as Cabinet Members in the Irish Government, Northern Irish Executive and Assembly members, former Mayors and numerous elected officials, as well as leading figures in the media, academia and the arts.
The WIP Program aims to inspire and develop promising leaders through an outstanding leadership and skills-building program of personal development, policy debate and community service which is committed to building a future of peace and prosperity across the island of Ireland.
A director of Crossmaglen Credit Union, Kilian, who is curently studying Politics and Criminology at Ulster University, is one such aspiring leader – being one of the youngest Credit Union Directors in Ireland. He believes passionately in the two core values of the year-long WIP Program – leadership and service and says he is “proud and excited” to have been given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Kilian will be one of 35 talented students to join WIP’s expanding network of leaders and influencers in Washington and New York this summer on the scheme which has played an important role in post-conflict Northern Ireland and Ireland over the last two decades, by bringing together young leaders from a wide range of communities and backgrounds for the program.
Speaking to The Examiner about his incredible opportunity, a modest Kilian said he had doubts that he would be chosen for the program, facing such stiff competition from the brightest and best of Ireland’s potential leading figures, but he says he was encouraged to apply by his university tutors.
The 23 year old said he is “extremely proud, excited and also overwhelmed about this opportunity as this program is all about identifying and developing future leaders of Ireland”.
He revealed that through his extensive voluntary work across Ireland, including as a director of his local credit union, he was able to demonstrate in the selection process his willingness “to develop and help our society for the better”.
“I applied as it is a prestigious scheme that not only gives me an opportunity to work in Capitol Hill in Washington D.C over the summer, but also develops me to be a future leader of Ireland. Looking at what some of the past participants have gone on to do, including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, I’m very enthusiastic for the future. This is a fantastic program to have on my CV and the opportunities that it now opens for me are very exciting,” he enthused.
Once he returns from his summer in the US, Kilian and his fellow students will be supported to use their new skills and perspectives to address the challenges in their wider community and will continue to work with each other to develop policy papers, aimed at generating new ideas advocating for systemic change across the country.
The Crossmaglen man will become part of a community of over 700 accomplished ambassadors for the program who are excelling in roles across the political, business, legal, entrepreneurial, advocacy and cultural sectors in Ireland.