Last year, Dr Sudha Nair became the first social worker to be elected a member of the Public Service Commission.
It was another milestone for the woman who has been involved in social work for 30 years.
Dr Nair, who received her doctorate in social work from the National University of Singapore in 2006, said: "I do what I do because I'm very passionate about the cause. From the time I graduated in 1986, I knew social work was what I wanted to do."
In 1987, she became a social worker, and later started a before- and after-school care programme at Ang Mo Kio Social Service Centre, now known as Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre (FSC).
She remembers an eight-year-old boy who once walked into her workplace, murmuring and making unintelligible noises.
"My first impression of him was that he was a very angelic and pleasant child, until I realised he wasn't responding to anything."
He and two older siblings were part of the programme she started.
"Later on, we realised he had many behavioural issues. He was quietly destructive, like he would break the toilet bowl at our centre.
"His school also thought he was being difficult. He would go into the staffroom and eat teachers' food, set off the school's fire alarm or fall asleep in class."
He was facing deeper problems at home, she soon learnt. His mother was abused by her husband while pregnant with him, and the boy later became a witness to the family violence. He also had a hearing disability, affecting his ability to speak.
"It was a cruel world for him - he would be crying and staying up the whole night to protect his mother," said Dr Nair, 58.
For the next two years, she worked with the family to resolve the marital problems and the children's behavioural issues, and helped to place him in a special education school to get more support.
"Today, the boy has finished his education and is in his early 30s working as a waiter in a restaurant. The family is also doing well," she said.
It spurred her on to do more.
Another case of a woman who had been abused by her husband repeatedly over seven hours drove her to start the Centre for Promoting Alternatives to Violence (Pave) in 1999, the first family violence specialist centre in Singapore.
Dr Nair is now the executive director of Pave, which was officially registered in 2002. It provides legal and counselling services to victims of family violence, and even abusers.
Her work has helped to shape public policy in social services, and many programmes she started at Ang Mo Kio FSC became nationalised.
"I've made it a lifelong mission to stop the pain and hurt that these families go through, as much as I can," she said. "There has to be hope for them."