OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — An Oak Ridge senior has overcome a tragic loss and moving from Zimbabwe to the United States.
Now, he's ready to graduate high school.
Much like any high school senior, Takudzwa Mabvuta has big dreams.
"It was kind of scary," he said.
To achieve them, he had to make a big trip across the world and across cultures.
"Honestly, scary and exciting to live with my dad for the first time," he said.
Taku, as his friends call him, moved from Zimbabwe last year to finish high school at Oak Ridge.
He came from a tough loss.
"When she passed, it was really hard," Taku said.
Taku unexpectedly lost his mother in Zimbabwe last year, which led him to Oak Ridge, where his father works at ORNL.
"And it was also sad leaving my family behind and trying to cope with them and the whole loss," Taku said.
But he made the most of it.
He joined the football team, played violin in the orchestra and starred in the school play.
"That's how I made a lot of friends," Taku said. "That's the only way I would've made friends. It was just awesome, the late nights going out to eat because I don't usually eat out a lot by myself."
He was even crowned king of the Winter Formal for raising the most money in support of Second Harvest Food Bank.
"I knew a lot of people and you should use that for good, and I just decided to do that," Taku said.
He said his teachers deserve much of the credit.
"They've been so supportive," Taku said. "I've never felt the love like the way the teachers here (show it)."
He's heading to Berea College in Kentucky next fall.
"I can't wait for the different experience of living alone and stuff," Taku said.
He said his mom would be proud he's achieving his dreams.
"I hope she would be proud. She's told me so many things that I've used here," Taku said.
Taku says he plans to keep playing the violin as long as he can, and his last day at Oak Ridge High School is Friday. He, and the rest of the seniors, will graduate from high school on Thursday, May 30.