Always on the go

Moscow High School sophomore Defne Yuksel enjoys spending time downtown, especially at the Moscow Food Co-op and at One World Cafe.

Defne Yuksel does not know where she wants to go to college, but when the time comes, the Moscow High School sophomore’s college applications are guaranteed to impress.

Besides taking high school classes, the 4.0 GPA student takes Calculus 2 and linear algebra at the University of Idaho, is president of the Gritman Medical Center Junior Volunteer Program, spends up to five hours at a time dancing at Sanctuary Yoga, Barre and Dance in Pullman and is president of the sophomore class.

She is also part of Business Professionals of America, Model United Nations and the Moscow Human Rights Commission. When she’s not busy in school or volunteering, she likes to hang out downtown at the Moscow Food Co-op or One World Cafe.

Basically, the 16-year-old is busy from the time she wakes up to the time she goes to sleep, but that is how she likes it.

“If I’m not busy, then I feel like I’m not doing anything, which I probably won’t because I’m a chronic procrastinator,” Yuksel said.

She said going from activity to activity forces her to stay on task.

“I’m just in a lot of different places but I feel like that ties me more to the community, which I enjoy,” Yuksel said.

As part of Idaho Philanthropy Day awards, Yuksel will be recognized Nov. 14 in Coeur d’Alene as one of the three Outstanding Youth Philanthropists in north Idaho for her volunteer work on the Palouse. The Gritman Foundation nominated her for the award.

Gritman’s Junior Volunteer Program allows teenagers to experience working in a hospital setting while learning new skills and building character, according to the hospital’s website.

Yuksel said there are several Gritman departments to volunteer for but marketing is one of her favorites.

She said she loves hanging posters and flyers and doing outreach for the hospital at community events like the Latah County Fair. Yuksel said she loves meeting new people and communicating Gritman’s services at those events, while handing out free merchandise.

“I’m a fan of communication I guess,” Yuksel said. “I don’t know, hearing a lot of people (say) ‘Gritman has the best ChapStick.’ That’s one of my most enjoyable moments.”

She said she often ends her day driving back to Moscow around 9 or 10 p.m. after about four hours of dance in Pullman.

Yuksel said she practices several dance forms, including ballet, jazz, hip hop and contemporary dance. She said ballet is one of her favorite types because it is structured and she knows how she needs to look when dancing, as opposed to modern dancing where the style is more free-flowing.

Yuksel also instructs children at the dance studio, which she said she enjoys.

While she still has two-and-a-half years left of high school, Yuksel said she has considered applying her passion for math into a career. With her experience at Gritman, she said the medical field, specifically surgery, is intriguing, and she is also interested in communications and public speaking.

“I don’t know what I really want to do,” Yuksel said. “I just know I want to make a difference at some point.”

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to

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