Chatham High School has named senior Defne Selen its “Caring Student of the Year” for  2018. This award is given to a senior student who is an "unsung hero" and has not been otherwise recognized for the selfless work in devoting his or her time to those less fortunate.  

Selen was chosen to receive this recognition for her dedication to "Yamba Malawi" in which she has spent countless hours fundraising and campaigning to provide relief to the orphan crisis in Malawi, Africa. She has worked with local businesses in the area to provide resources such as food, water, and clothing, as well as to give scholarships for education and funds for emergency healthcare.

Selen got involved with Yamba Malawi in the beginning of her junior year, through a family friend.

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“By working with them,” Selen said, “it was on me to get the word out, go to fundraisers, and raise money myself. What really appealed to me about this organization, in particular, is that we don't just work to provide Malawians with one time resources, but develop businesses and stronger economic systems to make lasting change. When I see videos of Malawians who have benefited from this organization and hear their stories, it makes me want to work even harder, because I know what Yamba Malawi is doing is working.”

About her award, Selen said, “I could not have been more surprised when I found out I had won this award. I never had the chance to promote it or do any fundraisers in school (even though I wanted to), so it really felt rewarding that the time and effort I put into this organization on my own time was able to get recognized.”

Selen's counselor at CHS, Lisa Kool-Behr, said, “Defne Selen is a dedicated young woman who is always eager to seek a new learning opportunity and work in a capacity in which she is serving others. She has chosen special opportunities and programs that have provided her with the avenue for immersing herself in a true learning and life experience every time, and her work with ‘Yamba Malawi’ is a true testament to her investment in helping those less fortunate.”

Selen was honored at the annual caring student award event along with other Morris County high school recipients at Berkeley College in Woodland Park on Tuesday, May 21.