We talk to Cara Hunter (24), who was selected as the SDLP's East Londonderry MLA following the death of John Dallat earlier this year.
Q. Tell us about your childhood.
A. I was raised in Portrush and went to St Patrick's Primary School. I was really fortunate - it was an ideal childhood.
I was raised near the beach and the school was beside the beach - we had teddy bear picnics.
It was a beautiful spot. When I was nine, we moved to Boston, Massachusetts, and that was a huge change for me.
My mum had got a job at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences as a professor of nursing and after a family discussion it was decided to move there permanently.
We lived in Boston for just over a year and I did all the ice skating and skiing. But I wasn't mad about living in the States at that time - I couldn't settle and mum was very understanding so we returned home.
My parents separated when I was about 10, but I loved being able to go from Portrush to my father in Tyrone.
I'd spend the week with my mum and go to dad at the weekends.
When I'd go to visit dad on the train we always stopped at the Ballykelly chip shops - he said we kept them in business as we were there so often.
Just over a year ago my dad moved from Tyrone and is now living across the road from me, which is great.
Q. What are you most proud of?
A When I was elected as a councillor in May last year I didn't anticipate getting in - I thought nobody was going to take me seriously because I was only 23 years old.
It was that moment of relief when you realise at the count that you are in and the public have had faith in you.
I was overjoyed and just so grateful.
It's really humbling getting elected, after all the hard work.
Q. The one regret you wish you could amend?
A. Probably my biggest regret was in Stormont this morning when I had the Ulster fry.
I'm trying to get leaner because everyone talks about the Stormont Stone - putting on weight - and it's 100% real.
Q. What about phobias. Do you have any?
A. If you'd asked me 10 years ago, it probably would have been public speaking - but now it's just spiders.
This time last year we went on a conflict resolution trip with the US Consulate to San Diego when I was bitten by a spider and had to go to Urgent Care. I thought I was going to lose my foot, but I just had to get an antibiotic.
Q. The temptation you cannot resist?
A. A margarita is lovely - I like it on the rocks and you can get it with a salted rim.
I lived in Los Angeles for five years and anywhere you looked there was Mexican food all round, so I think I just brought a bit of that home.
Q. Your number one prized possession?
A. Our house was my grandmother's house and my grandfather had been in the Navy.
He took so much pride in being in the Navy and we have one large frame with photos of him and his buddies, and his letter. He was 15 when he joined as he lied about his age.
Growing up, I heard all the stories about being on ships and we would watch war movies together. If there was a fire, I'd make sure to get anything that was to do with his time in the Navy out of the house - after my mum and the dog, of course.
Q. The book that's most impacted your life?
A. I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho as a teenager and loved it. It's a story about a shepherd boy who wants to follow his dream.
It's a nice mixture of challenging spiritual belief and discussion of a higher power but it's also packaged as a soft story.
It will mean something different to you at 15 and at 24.
Q. If you had the power or authority, what would you do?
A. One thing I am working on at the moment in the Assembly is around improving mental health education in schools, making young people more emotionally resilient.
I'm also meeting with students and the one thing that keeps popping up is the need for a conversation on sexual consent.
I am 24 and I went through how many years of education and it was never discussed - that's really sad.
When you look at society, we just recognise how crucial it is to give people those skills and awareness so that they are making responsible decisions.
Q. What makes your blood boil every time without fail?
A. I have a black Labrador called Murphy who is the best thing ever.
You have to be devoid of any love and emotion if you could hurt an animal - so it would be animal cruelty, one hundred per cent.
Q. Who has most influenced you in life?
A. Definitely my mum. She's called Pauline and she was a working mum throughout my whole life, and she's still working.
When she was at the school gate there was a bit of mum-shaming because she was a working mum, but she gave me a great work ethic.
She worked for the Royal College of Nursing and she drove to Belfast and back every single day from work, for 20 years.
She was always there at the gates on Friday and she would take me for an ice cream and ask about school.
I genuinely don't know how she managed to fit everything in.
She grew up on a council estate and no one in our family had ever gone to university, so she was the first.
I find her really inspiring. She was a nurse in Altnagelvin during the Troubles and she's seen an awful lot.
Q. Your top three dinner party guests, dead or alive, and why?
A. I would say John F Kennedy for political advice, Whitney Houston for entertainment and my grandfather, so I could cook him a decent steak.
Q. The best piece of advice you've ever received?
A. People say at the start when you're going for interviews in the world of politics to just be yourself, and recognise that any kind of insincerity, or not being authentic, is so noticeable.
Q. The unlikely interest or hobby that you love?
A. This is a very recent thing but I absolutely love weight training and being in the gym. I recently got a personal trainer and I've been at the gym four to five times a week - I'm just obsessed.
Q. The poem that touches your heart?
A. The first thing that came to mind was a Maya Angelou poem called 'When I think about myself'.
If you look up the clip of it, her delivery is so gripping.
It's a poem about self reflection and racism and when she delivers it she is laughing because she really wants to cry.
It's about laughing through your struggle.
Q. The happiest moment of your life?
A. I was co-opted in May and the reason I got into politics was because a friend of mine had taken his own life.
I had a moment in my office when I had made a cup of tea and I had the photos of him and me on my desk and it was emotional - it was happy and it was sad.
It was really special.
I feel very humbled to be on this hill - it's that recognition that you are a policymaker who can create change around important topics like mental health.
It makes me terribly sad in many ways but now it's such a blessing that this job is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Q. And the saddest?
A. My grandmother and I lived together in the last year of her life - she passed away in February 2018.
Often, we'd have what you could say were like sleepovers - we'd chat away about life, death, romance, everything.
In her last year she began to show that sharp decline.
We went around town together, she in her wheelchair - we had coffees on the beach, watched old films together.
It's terribly sad when you see their decline and small things become really difficult.
I'd never been at a deathbed before but it was a gift to be there in her final moment - that was the saddest moment but I do feel blessed.
Q. The one event that made a difference in your life?
A. The fact that I lived in Los Angeles - I joined college and went in as a new girl in junior year and initially I was so nervous.
We had cousins there and mum believed America had more opportunities for us. She got a job in LA as a professor teaching pathophysiology in 2011.
I attended Simi Valley High school, graduated a year early in 2013 and then started university in California State University Northridge studying broadcast journalism.
The whole American education system is very out there, and you have to stand up and speak to the class.
Public speaking is such a big part of their curriculum.
They have things like debate club and student body president that we don't have.
I think sometimes living in the north, our culture is that we are quite shy, and this gave me more confidence to speak up. We later returned home to be closer to our loved ones.
Q. What's the ambition that keeps driving you forward?
A. If you look at the people around you, there's a generation of young people who want a place that is happy and safe to live in.
As an MLA, you feel so lucky because you are in a position to make your country a better place.
As cheesy as that sounds, it keeps me going, the hope that they will have a better Northern Ireland than the one I grew up in.
Q. What's the philosophy that you live by?
A. One thing that was highlighted when Caroline Flack died was the importance of just being kind on a daily basis.
If anything were to happen to me I'd deeply regret holding grudges, so my philosophy is to be kind.
Q. How do you want to be remembered?
A. I think I would be lucky to be remembered at all. Just that I tried.
In the role that I am in, there is a lot of negativity and a lot of back and forth.
But I've tried to do all I could with the time that was given to me.