SINGAPORE - On the morning of her 15th birthday, Miss Sharifah Nadia Syed Ameer Ali's father hit a lamp post in the taxi he was driving and was left temporarily paralysed.
The incident in April 2017 occurred on the same day as a school test and shook the Secondary 3 student to the core.
"I struggled to comprehend the strongest figure in my life lying there," she said, recalling her father in hospital.
"It was difficult to juggle studying for my examinations with looking after my younger brother too."
Not wanting to worry her parents, the Crescent Girls' School student was determined to work harder to ease the financial burden on her family.
Despite initially lagging behind in her studies because of her father's accident, with the support of teachers, she continued her studies in Year 5 and 6 at Raffles Institution after doing well in school and in her co-curricular activity, hockey.
Now, the 19-year-old is set to follow in the footsteps of teachers who inspired her throughout her education life.
The first-year National University of Singapore (NUS) student is studying Mathematics, and plans to teach the subject along with English in primary school.
Last Wednesday (Sept 29), she was one of 274 recipients of the Ministry of Education (MOE) Teaching Scholarship and Award, given out at a virtual ceremony.
Undergraduates with a strong passion for teaching can receive the award to study at local universities, or the scholarship for their studies in local or overseas universities. They will then enrol in the National Institute of Education (NIE) to be trained as teachers.
Miss Sharifah is determined to impart a can-do spirit to her future pupils, like her teachers at Tampines North Primary School did.
"My primary school gave me a good foundation in my education and in my attitude towards learning.
"This enabled me to join my secondary school, which has shaped me to be who I am today."
Her 54-year-old father eventually recovered after surgery and physiotherapy after about a year, and is now a courier.
Miss Sharifah said: "My parents are a key pillar of support for me. They have always stressed excellence, but didn't pressure me to do well."
Another recipient of the award is fourth-year NUS Applied Mathematics major See Wee Siang, 23, who intends to teach maths at the secondary school level in the future.
During his own secondary school days, his fear of addressing a crowd often left him stammering - which got in the way of his student councillor duties.
"I remember being so scared of getting tongue-tied in front of the school that I would try to avoid having to conduct pledge-taking during morning assembly," he said.
A turning point came in his second year at Temasek Junior College, when a teacher told an obviously stressed Mr See to enjoy the process of delivering his valedictorian speech.
"I realised that rather than seeing it as a task to complete, I could just deliver it from my heart," he said.
"I think if my secondary school friends saw me give that 10-minute long speech, they would have been surprised," he remarked.
Mr See now hopes to use his experiences to inspire others when he becomes a teacher.
"My teachers encouraged me to keep trying and not give up despite my difficulty speaking in front of a crowd... School was a place for me to find this passion, and I hope to help (my students) find that."