Editor’s note: This is part of a series of stories profiling East Texas high school graduates.

GLADEWATER — Faith triumphs over doubt in Mamosa Mohoto’s world, which the Texas native navigates with the confidence of someone who knows what a big world it is.

“I feel like the person I was 2 1/2 years ago, I’m not now,” the Gladewater High School National Honor Society student said.

Mohoto, 17, was reflecting on her arrival back in America midway through her sophomore year from Klerksdorp, South Africa, where she grew up.

“It’s about the size of Longview,” the dual citizen said of her other hometown.

Born in Tyler, she said her father encouraged her to come back to Texas, which she had not seen since age 3 or 4.

“My dad, he suggested I come here mainly to have opportunities, academically as well as going on to a job,” she said.

Mohoto said she wrestled with self-doubt when she arrived back in the U.S. That’s not an issue anymore.

“I’m learning how to reach my goals and not letting fear and doubt (have a voice),” she said recently, sitting in the school library. “I’m just learning to be myself.”

The teen is a worship leader in her student fellowship at LifeBridge Christian Center in Longview. She and close friends Sarah Smith and Aldondre Jackson kick doubt to the curb on a regular basis, often with a song.

“I sing a lot,” she said, confessing she’s neglected her other hobby, tennis, in recent years. “When I’m at home, I’ll just sing. I whistle, but not too good.”

Mohoto’s parents, Sello Atwell Mohoto and Selloane Mohoto, remain in South Africa. Their daughter is hosted by Scott and Brandy Flanagan, owners of Gym 101 Fitness Center and longtime friends of the South African couple.

In House Flanagan, Mohoto shares space with dogs Charlie and Houie (pronounced “hoo-wee”) and a pair of miniature donkeys, Rockey and B.J.

Brandy Flanagan said she and her husband met the Mohotos at a Gladewater church where they were youth pastors while the Mohotos were associate pastors.

Mohoto has her sights set on attending the University of North Texas where she plans to pursue a degree in physics.

“I know,” she said, acknowledging fascination with a subject many young students avoid. “It’s just something I’ve been passionate about for a while. ... My faith has a lot to do with it. I’m a Christian.”

Mohoto said the writings of Dr. Caroline Leaf, a physician who lectures and writes on the brain and its connection with spiritual wavelengths, feeds her interest in physics.

She also says she’ll remain in America for her career, unless her own spiritual connection advises otherwise.

“I plan to serve over here,” she said. “But if God takes me somewhere else, that’s the way I’ll go. ... In five years? Honestly, hopefully (I’ll be) working at some academic institution as a physicist. Hopefully, starting a family, and just serving God.”