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Once contemplating quitting school as well as struggling with both her personal and academic life, Uma has beaten the odds and is even a teacher herself now.
The 33-year-old credits her growth and achievements to Ms Ling Chee Ngok, her teacher from when she was studying at Serangoon Garden Secondary School.
Here is Uma's entry for the Samsung-Stomp Inspiring Teachers Awards:
"The teacher and role model whom I always look up to is Ms Ling Chee Ngok. She was a teacher who taught from the heart and not from the book. Her love and compassion helped me to cope well in my academic journey in Serangoon Garden Secondary School.
"She was not only a teacher but a good counsellor who helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses. I had difficulties adjusting to the school environment and the challenges that awaited. She provided me with many wonderful opportunities to explore my strengths and help others in school.
"It was too overwhelming that I often broke down in school and even had the idea of quitting school. She somehow identified the fear in me and often checked on me after lessons.
"She was someone whom I could confide in and share all my personal problems, especially when I was deeply affected due to my grandmother being bedridden. She was a motherly figure not only to me but many other students in the school.
"Her positivity and encouragement brightened my days at school. Her engaging personality and teaching style never failed to impress me.
"It has been 20 years and we are still in touch with each other. She continues to encourage me in all that I do. She is truly a God-sent angel in my life."
Ms Ling, who is currently a Flexi-Adjunct at Pasir Ris Crest Secondary School (PRCS), told Stomp that she started the noble role of teaching in 1973 and retired in December 2004.
She added: "I have been doing adjunct teaching to relief teachers on maternity leave. But my time in PRCS, since June 2016, has been the longest stretch so far.
"It's a nice school and I am happy working with the younger teachers here."
The contest is now closed and winners will be contacted shortly.
Read all entries for the contest here.