Interning at President Bill Clinton's Harlem office is part of Ken Biberaj's political plan, which has dominated his life since government class at Hayfield Secondary School.
"I really enjoy politics," Biberaj said.
It was Clinton's Vision of America that has been a driving force with Biberaj, who is currently in a first-year master's-degree student at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in Massachusetts. From this experience, he hopes to learn how he can better serve his community and nation as a future government leader.
"I'm using the summer as an opportunity to use these skills," he said.
At Clinton's office, the former president concentrates on urban revitalization, AIDS, and religious reconciliation. Those programs motivate Biberaj.
"He's still very active," Biberaj said about the former president.
While at Hayfield, Biberaj worked on former Gov. Don Beyer's campaign in 1997 and interned at Congressman Jim Moran's (D-8th) office. He plans on working with a Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign when election time comes. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.; Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.; and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean were names he mentioned. After graduating from Harvard, he plans to pursue a position in the local or Virginia state political arena.
"Maybe down the road, I'll pursue my law degree," he said.
Elez Biberaj, Ken's father, was happy that despite all the competition for the internship, his son was picked.
"We were delighted," he said.
Both father and mother are of Albanian descent, and Elez Biberaj currently works at Voice of America radio. He works with the Albanian broadcasts. The thought of his son becoming involved in politics, possibly going all the way to the top, is a dream, he thinks.
"I'm glad he has dreams and is very interested in public service," he said.
As part of the younger Biberaj’s application procedure for the internship, he submitted a letter of recommendation from former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman. Glickman wrote, "His enthusiasm and energy reminds me of my early days in politics, and I am fully confident that he would fit nicely as a member of your staff."
Although Biberaj is aware that Clinton's tenure in the Oval Office wasn't without controversy (i.e., Monica Lewinsky), he feels the bigger picture is more important.
"I try to stay focused on the bigger picture, what he's really done for the country," he said.
Although the internship is unpaid, the Kennedy School is providing funding for Biberaj. He'll also be staying with a cousin who lives in the New York City area.
Biberaj graduated from Hayfield in 1998, and his family resides in Fairfax Station. Two teachers at Hayfield who were influential were government teacher Jane Carl and his adviser, Amy Marta. Marta was the student government adviser then and taught a class called "Leadership," which Biberaj was in.
"He's very capable, he wants to go do good for others. When he had an idea and we'd talk it over, I knew it would get done," Marta said.
From Hayfield, Biberaj went to American University in Washington, D.C., where he got an undergraduate degree, and then on to Harvard this year.